GAME PREVIEW
UT Martin
SKYHAWKS
8-3 (0-0 OVC)
DEC 14 | 7:00 PM (CT)
Elam Center
Martin, Tenn.
Arkansas State
RED WOLVES
7-2 (0-0 SBC)
Website | Game Notes OVC Digital Network
107.9 KFIN
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► STORYLINES
 
A-State has had 10 days away from competition, but picks back up the schedule with a 7 p.m. game at UT Martin on Wednesday. Keith Merritt will have the play-by-play on 107.9 KFIN with live video on the Ohio Valley Conference Digital Network (free).        

The 2016-17 campaign marks the program's 89th season with the Red Wolves amassing a 1,170-1,117 all-time record (.511) dating back to the inaugural 1926-27 season.

Head Coach Grant McCasland, who is in his first season at Arkansas State, is off to a 7-2 start this season, the best start by an A-State head coach. McCasland has a record of 206-46 (.818) in stops at Midland College (2004-09) and Midwestern State (2009-11).  His NCAA record is 63-14 (.818) with his 56-12 mark at Midwestern State and 7-2 ledger at A-State.  

As of NCAA Stat rankings on Dec. 12, the Red Wolves rank fourth nationally in 3-point field goal percentage defense (.254). Additionally, A-State ranks 25th in 3-point field goal percentage (.405) and 30th in field-goal percentage (.492). 

Donte Thomas became the 13th player in program history with 200 assists with his four helpers against Cleveland State. He has 206 assists in his 35 games played. He ranks 11th nationally with 6.7 assists per game this season and 14th nationally with 60 total assists.  

Devin Carter ranks ninth in program history averaging 16.9 PPG. He ranks sixth in program history shooting 42.4 percent (117-276) from 3-point range. 

Guards are responsible for 170 of the 284 team rebounds (59.9 percent) thus far.  

A-State carries a +8.7 (681-603) scoring margin through nine games, the best scoring margin since the first nine games of the 2003-04 season when A-State was +12.9 (718-602).  

The Red Wolves are off to a 7-2 start for the first time since the 2008-09 season and are 7-2 or better after nine games for the 11th time in program history. 

A-State is 7-2 on the season and two areas stick out when comparing the seven wins and two losses. The Red Wolves are 6-0 when tied or winning the rebounding total and also 6-0 win winning points in the paint.   

The Red Wolves current five-game road trip is the longest for an A-State team since the 1989-90 season. The 1989-90 squad traveled to Louisiana Tech, New Orleans, Louisana-Lafayette, Lamar and UTRGV.  

 

► TRENDING UP
A-State is shooting 49.2 percent (242-492) from the field, up from 42.8 percent (246-575) at this point last season. From 3-point range, A-State is up from 39.5 percent (47-144) to 40.5 percent (62-153) this year.  

The Red Wolves have shot 50 percent or better in six of nine games (Central Baptist, Georgetown, Chattanooga, SIUE, Lehigh, Cleveland State) this year. Last season, A-State reached 50 percent or better in a total of six games. From 3-point range, A-State has hit 43 percent or better in four games (Central Baptist, Georgetown, Chattanooga, Lehigh) already, a total reached five times last season.  

A-State carries a +8.7 (681-603) scoring margin through nine games, the best scoring margin since the first nine games of the 2003-04 season when A-State was +12.9 (718-602).      

 

► ALWAYS RISING
A-State earned a 78-72 win at Georgetown on Nov. 17, a statement win for the program in just the third game under head coach Grant McCasland. The Red Wolves have since added four more victories, including wins over SoCon preseason favorite Chattanooga (73-67) and Patriot League preseason favorite Lehigh (97-89).       

The non-conference road win at Georgetown was the sixth in program history against a team from the higher resource conferences (ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC). A-State last picked up a non-conference road win against a higher resource team on Dec. 17, 2014 at Mississippi State (69-55).     

The other four non-conference road wins against higher resource conference foes are: at Ole Miss (2013  | 74-69), at Stanford in the NIT (1988 | 60-59), at Iowa (66-62 | 1985) and at Ole Miss (1947 | 40-29). 

With wins over Georgetown, Chattanooga and Lehigh, the Red Wolves have three victories against teams ranked inside the top-100 of KenPom rankings. Georgetown was ranked 30th, Chattanooga 91st and Lehigh 94th at the time of the game. Dating back to the 2001-02 season, the Red Wolves had three non-conference wins against teams ranked in KenPom top-100 ranks (St. Bonaventure 2011-12, 2012-13 and Mississippi State 2014-15) before this season.  

 

► SCOUTING REPORT: UT MARTIN
UT Martin is off to an 8-3 start this season, the best in the Division I era for the program. 

The Skyhawks suffered a 74-57 setback at Illinois State on Saturday. UT Martin shot 32.1 percent (17-53) from the field and was 7-for-20 (35 percent) from 3-point range.

UT Martin features three players averaging 15 or more points in Jacolby Mobley (15.9), Kedar Edwards (15.8) and Matthew Butler (15.5). The Skyhawks are averaging 80.5 points per game on 47.1 percent shooting and 36.0 percent beyond the arc.   

Javier Martinez leads the team on the glass, pulling in 6.0 rebounds per game. Fatood Lewis averages 5.5 rebounds per game and Chandler Rowe is third with 5.0 boards an outing. 

The Skyhawks rank 29th nationally with 17.2 assists per game. Edwards leads the team individually with 44 assists while Butler has dished out 37 helpers. 

 

► SERIES HISTORY
Arkansas State and UT Martin meet for the 24th time on Wednesday and for the second-straight season in Martin.      

The Red Wolves had won seven-straight in the series until the Skyhawks have taken each of the last two meetings. UT Martin spoiled the 2014-15 season opener (73-75) and followed it up with a 74-70 victory on their home floor over the Red Wolves last season. Donte Thomas narrowly missed a double-double in last year's game, posting 15 points and nine rebounds.   

The Red Wolves carry an 88-90 record against teams from the Ohio Valley Conference. A-State is 1-0 this year against the OVC with the 75-57 win over SIU-Edwardsville.

  

► GUARDS CRASHING THE BOARDS
It's nothing new to A-State fans seeing Donte Thomas among the team leaders in rebounding, but he's just one of the guards helping the Red Wolves crash the boards.

Thomas led or tied for the team lead in rebounding six times last season and has led or tied for the lead in four games this season. Lindsey and Thomas each had six rebounds at North Dakota State and Thomas had seven boards against Central Baptist and at Georgetown. Thomas was one of three players with five rebounds against Cleveland State.

Guards are responsible for 186 of the 318 team rebounds (58.5 percent) thus far.   

Deven Simms leads the team averaging 4.9 rebounds per game with Thomas second at 4.3 boards per game. Overall, four of the top six rebounders this season are guards for A-State. 

 

► THOMAS ENJOYS DC HOMECOMING
When the schedule for the 2016-17 season came out, it was easy for Donte Thomas to cricle the game at Georgetown on a calendar. 

Thomas, a Washington native, returned to his roots and played in front of many family and friends helping A-State to a 78-72 win.   

Logging 22 minutes, Thomas scored 12 points, had a team high seven rebounds and five assists. Going up against the Hoyas full court press much of the night, Thomas committed just two turnovers and was 3-for-5 from the floor.  

 

► RISING TO THE OCCASION
The Dec. 3 game at TCU marked the fifth over the last two seasons against a higher resources conference foe on the road.  

Devin Carter has risen to the occasion in each game, scoring 20 or more points while shooting at least 45 percent from the field. 

In the five games (at Oregon, at Baylor, at Missouri, at Georgetown and at TCU), Carter has hit 42-of-79 (53.2 percent) of his field goal attempts while going 19-for-39 (48.7 percent) from 3-point range. 

For the five games, he's averaged 22.6 points (113 pts) and 3.7 rebounds (22 rebs). His 25 points at Georgetown are the most among the five outings while 20 at Baylor are the fewest. 

 

► PRESENCE IN THE PAINT
A-State is 7-2 on the season and two areas stick out when comparing the seven wins and two losses. The Red Wolves are 6-0 when tied or winning the rebounding total and also 6-0 win winning points in the paint.     

In the seven-game win streak, A-State has outscored opponents 276-190 in the paint (12.3 ppg). Against Cleveland State (Nov. 30), A-State was +18 on the night in the paint, including a 30-10 edge in the second half alone. On the glass, A-State carried a +5.0 rebound margin (253-218) during the win streak. Lehigh won the glass (38-31) and Army equaled A-State (29-29), but the Red Wolves won the glass in the other five games. 

 

► BENCH PRODUCTION
The Red Wolves bench production has stood out in all eight games this year as A-State has more bench points in seven of the eight games.  

On the season, A-State has outscored opponents benches 272-160, a difference of 12.4 points per game.

Deven Simms is the Red Wolves second-leading scorer with 11.7 points per game and has come off the bench in each game. Tamas Bruce (7.6) and Connor Kern (5.8) have also come off the bench in each game and rank fifth and seventh, respectively, in scoring. 

The bench players have combined to shoot 53.8 percent (105-195) from the field and 37.8 percent (14-37) from 3-point range. 

 

► DEFENDING THE TREY
Seven of the nine opponents thus far have shot 28 percent or less from 3-point range against the Red Wolves. SIUE (Nov. 22) and TCU (Dec. 3) are the only exception as the Cougars were 5-for-13 (38.5 percent) and Hornded Frogs were 7-for-19 (36.8 percent) beyond the arc.   

North Dakota State was just 1-for-11 (9.1 percent) in the season opener and Central Baptist was 6-for-27 (22.2 percent) beyond the arc. A-State held Georgetown without a 3-point field goal in the first half (0-6) on Nov. 17 before the Hoyas finished 3-for-20 (15 percent). Army was 1-for-11 (9.1 percent) in the first half and finished 5-for-20 (25 percent). Chattanooga also struggled in the first half hitting 1-of-9 (11.1 percent) before finishing 5-for-19 (26.3 percent). Lehigh entered the game ranked sixth nationally in 3-point shooting at 44.6 percent, but A-State held the Mountain Hawks to 27.6 percent (8-29). Cleveland State was 1-of-9 (11.1 percent) in the frist half and finished 5-of-19 (26.3 percent).  

A-State held Cleveland State to 1-of-9 (11 percent) 3-point field goals in first half on Nov. 30, marking the sixth time out of nine games an opponent has shot 15% or less in the first half.

After nine games, opponents are shooting 25.4 percent (45-177) from long range. A-State ranks fourth nationally in 3-point field goal percentage defense. 

 

► PROVEN WINNERS
Head Coach Grant McCasland embarks on his first season as head coach of the Red Wolves with a proven coaching staff full of winners. 

McCasland compiled a record of 199-45 (.816) in stops at Midland College (NJCAA) and Midwestern State (NCAA D2) and is joined by associate head coach Ross Hodge who posted a 146-24 (.859)record at Pairs JC (NJCAA) and Midwestern State (NCAA D2). Assistant Coach James Miller produced a 77-23 (.770) record at New Mexico JC (NJCAA) and assistant Jareem Dowling was 19-11 (.633) at Scotland Performance Institute (Prep). 

The staff has produced a record of 448-104 (.812) with 17 seasons of head coaching positions at various levels.  

► A-STATE'S 15TH HEAD COACH
Head Coach Grant McCasland was named the 15th head coach in program history back in March. 

McCasland begins his first season with five returning letter winners on the squad, including two starters, with nine newcomers added to the roster. 

McCasland is one of 50 new NCAA Division 1 coaches at their respective school this season and one of 29 in their first Division I head coaching role. Two of the 29 new head coaches in their first Division I experience have NBA head coaching experience: Terry Porter (Portland) and Mike Dunleavy Sr. (Tulane).

McCasland has a tie to one of the 29 new Division I head coaches as Northern Colorado head coach Jeff Linder was an assistant coach on McCasland's staff at Midland College for two seasons. Among those 29 coaches, A-State ranks second at 7-2 overall. Among all 50 first year coaches, A-State ranks fifth. 

First year head coaches at A-State have averaged a record of 11-11. Marvin Speight (16-9), John Rauth (16-8) and Jack Dale (16-9) have the most wins among A-State first year head coaches.

The Red Wolves face four opponents this year that feature new head coaches: Army, Little Rock, TCU and UT Martin.

 RACKING UP THE MILES
A-State has traveled over 5,500 miles already this season with road games at North Dakota State (2,958 miles), Georgetown and the pair of games at Army (2,554).  

Although the North Dakota State game was not part of the Maui Mainland Tournament, A-State has traveled more this year than a one way ticket to Lahaina, Hawaii for the Maui Invitational (4,102) prior to Thanksgiving. 

A-State hits the road now for the five remaining non-conference games that will add 3,390 miles to the tracker. It's an even 1,000 mile journey to TCU and trips to UT Martin (280) and Central Arkansas (264) follow. The Red Wolves close the non-conference schedule with a trip to Huntsville (280) to face Alabama before going to play Minnesota (1,566). 

The Red Wolves current five-game road trip is the longest for an A-State team since the 1989-90 season. The 1989-90 squad traveled to Louisiana Tech, New Orleans, Louisana-Lafayette, Lamar and UT Rio Grande Valley for five-straight conference games. The last time A-State played five or more games in a row away from home was the first seven games of the 2010-11 season. 

 

 RECORD WATCH
With four assists against Cleveland State (Nov. 30), Donte Thomas passed 200 career assists in just 34 games played. He became the 13th player in program history with 200 or more assists. He has 60 assists in nine games this year, an average of 6.7 per game. He is on pace for 207 assists this year which would rank as the fifth-most in single season history.  He ranks 38th among all active players in total assists over last two seasons combined with 206.  

Devin Carter has knocked 29 treys this season and has made 117 3-pointers in his 39 games with A-State. With 11 more treys, Carter would rank tied for 10th in program history for made 3-pointers. He currently ranks sixth shooting 42.4 percent (117-276) from 3-point range. His 117 made 3-pointers in last two seasons rank 20th nationally in that span. 

Averaging 16.9 points per game for his career, Devin Carter currently ranks ninth in program history.