GAME PREVIEW
Central Arkansas
BEARS
1-9 (0-0 Southland)
DEC 16 | 7:00 PM (CT)
Farris Center
Conway, Ark.
Arkansas State
RED WOLVES
8-2 (0-0 SBC)
Website | Game Notes Bear Nation Network
107.9 KFIN
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► STORYLINES
 
A five-game road swing for Arkansas State men's basketball continues Friday when the Red Wolves take on Central Arkansas. Tip off for the in-state matchup is set for 7 p.m. at the Farris Center. Keith Merritt will have the play-by-play on 107.9 KFIN with live video on the Bear Nation Network (paid). Fans can access the Bear Nation Network with a one-day pass for $5.95.       

The 2016-17 campaign marks the program's 89th season with the Red Wolves amassing a 1,171-1,117 all-time record (.512) 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 8-2 start this season, the best start by an A-State head coach. McCasland has a record of 207-46 (.818) in stops at Midland College (2004-09) and Midwestern State (2009-11).  His NCAA record is 64-14 (.821) with his 56-12 mark at Midwestern State and 8-2 ledger at A-State. 

Devin Carter converted 10 3-pointers for a single-game school record Wednesday at UT Martin. The 10 3-point makes are tied for the most in an NCAA Division I game this season. 

As of NCAA Stat rankings on Dec. 15, the Red Wolves rank second nationally in 3-point field goal percentage defense (.253). Additionally, A-State ranks 18th in 3-point field goal percentage (.411) and 31st in field-goal percentage (.488).  

Donte Thomas became the 13th player in program history with 200 assists with his four helpers against Cleveland State. He has 211 assists in his 36 games played. He ranks 13th nationally with 6.5 assists per game this season and 8th nationally with 65 total assists. 

Guards are responsible for 207 of the 353 team rebounds (58.6 percent) thus far.   

A-State carries a +9.7 (768-671) scoring margin through 10 games, the best scoring margin since the 2003-04 squad, also 8-2 after 10 games, was +10.0 (779-679).  

The Red Wolves are off to a 8-2 start for the first time since the 2008-09 season and are 8-2 or better after 10 games for the 11th time in program history. 

A-State is 8-2 on the season and two areas stick out when comparing the eight wins and two losses. The Red Wolves are 7-0 when tied or winning the rebounding total and 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 48.8 percent (272-557) from the field, up from 42.4 percent (270-637) at this point last season. From 3-point range, A-State is up from 31.9 percent (53-166) to 41.1 percent (76-185) this year.  

The Red Wolves have shot 50 percent or better in six of 10 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 five games (Central Baptist, Georgetown, Chattanooga, Lehigh, UT Martin) already, a total reached five times last season.  

A-State carries a +9.7 (768-671) scoring margin through 10 games, the best scoring margin since the first 10 games of the 2003-04 season when A-State was +10.0 (779-679).     

 

► 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.  

 

► TREY-RIFFIC
Devin Carter drained 10 3-pointers Wedneday at UT Martin to set a single-game school record. He becomes the fourth player in NCAA Division I action to hit 10 3-pointers, the most this season. 

Carter bests the previous school record of nine 3-pointers held by Adrian Banks (vs Troy |Jan. 13, 2007), Dewarick Spencer (vs UAPB | Dec. 17, 2003) and Tevoris Thompson (vs Lyon | Dec. 7, 2002).

A-State hit 14-of-32 (43.8 percent) from 3-point range at UT Martin the most 3-pointers in a game since Feb. 20, 2014 against UT Arlington when the Red Wolves were 16-of-30 (53.3 percent) against UT Arlington. 

 

► SCOUTING REPORT: CENTRAL ARKANSAS
Central Arkansas carries a 1-9 record into Friday's matchup. Like A-State, the Bears have a victory at Army (81-76). 

In their most recent outing, the Bears suffered a 97-53 setback at Michigan. 

Jordan Howard leads the team averaging 16.9 points per game. Derreck Brooks (15.3) and Mathieu Kamba (10.4)also average double figures for the Bears. 

Brooks leads the squad on the glass pulling in 6.8 rebounds per game. Kamba ranks second in rebounding with 6.2 per game, including a team best 19 offensive rebounds.

 

► SERIES HISTORY
Arkansas State and Central Arkansas meet for the 44th time on Friday. The Red Wolves lead the series 24-19 and have won each of the last six meetings.      

This year marks the sixth-straight season that A-State and Central Arkansas meet on the hardwood after no game was played from 1953 to 2011. The Red Wolves return to Conway for the first time since Dec. 1, 2014 when the team came away with a 67-49 victory.  

A-State, a member of the Southland Confrence from 1963-1987, holds a record of 127-127 against the current membership of the Southland Conference.  The Red Wolves are 221-130 all-time against foes from the Natural State. 

  

► GUARDS CRASHING THE BOARDS
Guards are responsible for 207 of the 353 team rebounds (58.6 percent) thus far.  

Deven Simms leads the team averaging 5.0 rebounds per game with Donte Thomas second at 4.3 boards per game. Overall, five of the top six rebounders this season are guards for A-State.  

 

► BEYOND THE BOX SCORE
C.J. Foster redshirted last season and has returned this year as a starter in each game and key contributor. 

Foster has established a career high in points over the last two games - 13 at TCU (Dec. 3) and 14 at UT Martin (Dec. 14). Not only did he set a career high in points, but Foster dished out a career best five assists at UT Martin. His career best in rebounding came in the big non-conference road win at Georgetown (Nov. 17) when he pulled down six rebounds.   

His biggest impact does not always appear on the box score, but Foster has been large on the defensive end. The win against Cleveland State stands out the most as Foster was guarding the Vikings leading scorer Rob Edwards and held him scoreless. Edwards came in averaging 18.8 points.   

 

► 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. 

 

► BENCH PRODUCTION
The Red Wolves bench production has stood out in all 10 games this year as A-State has more bench points in nine of the 10 games.   

On the season, A-State has outscored opponents benches 301-160, a difference of 13.1 points per game.

Deven Simms is the Red Wolves second-leading scorer with 12.3 points per game and has come off the bench in each game. Tamas Bruce (7.0) and Connor Kern (5.2) have also come off the bench in each game and rank sixth and seventh, respectively, in scoring. 

 

► DEFENDING THE TREY
Eight of the 10 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.     

A-State held UT Martin to 20 percent (1-for-5) from 3-point range in the first half marking the seventh time in 10 games an opponent has shot 20 percent or less. 

After 10 games, opponents are shooting 25.3 percent (47-186) from long range. A-State ranks second nationally in 3-point field goal percentage defense.

A-State's 2009-10 team held opponents to .293 (161-550) from 3-point range, the lowest percentage a Red Wolves team has posted for a full season. 

 

► 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 449-104 (.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 8-2 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 65 assists in 10 games this year, an average of 6.5 per game. He is on pace for 202 assists this year which would rank as the fifth-most in single season history.  He ranks 32nd among all active players in total assists over last two seasons combined with 211.  

Devin Carter has converted 39 treys this season and has made 127 3-pointers in his 41 games with A-State. With one more 3-pointer, Carter would rank tied for 10th in program history for made 3-pointers. He currently ranks sixth shooting 43.1 percent (127-295) from 3-point range. His 127 made 3-pointers in last two seasons rank 10th nationally in that span and he is one of 12 players with 125 or more in that time.  Carter ranks 15th among all active NCAA Division I players in 3-point field goal percentage at 43.1 percent.