GAME PREVIEW
Louisiana
RAGIN' CAJUNS
10-3 (0-0 SBC)
DEC 31 | 5:00 PM (CT)
Convocation Center
Jonesboro, Ark.
Arkansas State
RED WOLVES
9-4 (0-0 SBC)
Website | Game Notes Red Wolves Digital Network
107.9 KFIN
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► STORYLINES
 
After posting a 9-4 record in non-conference play, Arkansas State opens conference play against Louisiana on Saturday at the Convocation Center. Tip off is set for 5:00 p.m. with the game live on the Red Wolves Digital Network (paid). Matt Stolz brings the action on the EAB Red Wolves Sports Network flagship 107.9 KFIN.       

The 2016-17 campaign marks the program's 89th season with the Red Wolves amassing a 1,172-1,119 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 9-4 start this season, the best start by an A-State head coach. McCasland has a record of 208-47 (.816) in stops at Midland College (2004-09) and Midwestern State (2009-11).  His NCAA record is 65-16 (.802) with his 56-12 mark at Midwestern State and 9-4 ledger at A-State.  

Devin Carter converted 10 3-pointers at UT Martin (Dec. 14) for a single-game school record. 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. 29, the Red Wolves rank fourth nationally in 3-point field goal percentage defense (.279).   

Donte Thomas dished out a career high 13 assists at Central Arkansas (Dec. 16), the third-most in a NCAA Division I game this season. He is one of seven active NCAA DI players with 200-plus assists (232) and 200-plus rebounds (211) since start of 2015-16 season. 

Guards are responsible for 271 of the 465 team rebounds (58.3 percent) thus far.     

The Red Wolves won nine non-conference games for the first time since the 2003-04 season (9) and had eight non-conference wins against Division I opponents for the first time since 1990-91 (11).  

The win at Central Arkansas (Dec. 16) gave A-State four non-conference road wins, most by an A-State teams since the 1986-87 season (4). The most in any season came in 1973-74 (5). 

A-State is ranked No. 126 in the KenPom rankings as of Dec. 29. A-State opened the season at No. 281 in these rankings and has made the biggest improvement (+155) of any program this season. 

The Red Wolves open conference play at home for the first time since the 2010-11 season. 

 

► TRENDING UP
A-State is shooting 47.8 percent (351-735) from the field, up from 44.0 percent (358-813) at this point last season. From 3-point range, A-State is up from 32.1 percent (71-221) to 39.0 percent (97-249) this year.

With 97 3-point makes so far this year, A-State is on pace for 231 this season, which would be the fourth-most in school history and most since the 2013-14 team had 282. 

The Red Wolves have shot 50 percent or better in seven of 13 games (Central Baptist, Georgetown, Chattanooga, SIUE, Lehigh, Cleveland State, Minnesota) 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.  

More information on these numbers can be found on page four in the notes linked above.  

 

► 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 seven 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).    

With the win at Central Arkansas (Dec. 16), A-State earned its fourth non-conference road win of the season, most since the 1986-87 season. The Red Wolves have a chance at a fifth on Friday in Minnesota which would tie the 1973-74 squad with the most in program history. 

A-State has five wins this year away from home in non-conference play, most since the 1988-89 team had three road wins and a pair of neutral site victories in the preseason.   

 

► 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: LOUISIANA
Louisiana enters conference play atop the league with a 10-3 record. The Ragin' Cajuns lead the league in scoring (86.7), scoring margin (+14.8), field goal percentage (.482), rebound margin (+8.4) and turnover margin (+4.7).   

Frank Bartley IV leads the team in scoring at 16.6 points per game, one of four players averaging double figures. Bryce Washington, who has 10 double-doubles in 13 games, averages 14.7 points and 11.8 rebounds. 

Washington has 58 offensive rebounds this year, an average of 4.5 per game as the Ragin' Cajuns rank 16th nationally with 14.4 offensive rebounds per game.

Louisiana ranks eighth nationally forcing 18.2 turnovers per game while swiping 9.1 steals per game to rank 15th nationally.

 

► SERIES HISTORY
Arkansas State and Louisiana meet for the 74th time on Saturday and the series ranks as the third most played series in program history.       

Louisiana leads the series 50-23 and has won six of the last seven meetings. A-State is 16-18 on the home floor against the Ragin' Cajuns, winning the meeting last year (Jan. 9) 71-69. In that game, Devin Carter (25) and Donte Thomas (20) combined for 45 of the 71 points on 16-of-30 (53.3 percent) shooting.  

The Red Wolves begin the 26th season of play in the Sun Belt Conference with a record of 206-216.  A-State is 137-74 (.649) at home and 69-142 (.327) on the road in Sun Belt Conference action.  

  

► GUARDS CRASHING THE BOARDS
Guards are responsible for 271 of the 465 team rebounds (58.3 percent) thus far.    

Deven Simms leads the team averaging 4.8 rebounds per game with Donte Thomas second at 4.6 boards per game. Overall, five of the top six rebounders this season are guards for A-State.  

 

► IT'S BEEN TOO LONG
A-State returns to the Convocation Center for a home game, the first since a 78-51 win over Cleveland State back on Nov. 30. 

The Red Wolves open league play at home for the first time since the 2010-11 season, a 69-57 win over South Alabama on Dec. 30, 2010. 

 

► CONFERENCE OPENERS
A-State is set to open the 26th season of play in the Sun Belt Conference on Saturday.

The Red Wolves are 16-9 in the previous Sun Belt Conference openers and 32-21 in league play openers dating back to the 1963 season when A-State debuted in the Southland Conference.

A-State is 11-3 at home in Sun Belt Conference openers and 5-6 on the road, earning an 84-81 win at Troy last season.

 

► 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.   

More on C.J. Foster can be found on page five of the notes linked above. 

 

► RISING TO THE OCCASION
The non-conference finale at Minnesota (Dec. 23) marked the seventh game over the last two years against a higher resources conference foe on the road.  

In the seven games (at Oregon, at Baylor, at Missouri, at Georgetown, at TCU, vs Alabama and at Minnesota), Devin Carter hit 53-of-114 (46.5 percent) of his field goal attempts while going 21-for-57 (36.8 percent) from 3-point range. 

For the seven games, he averaged 21.4 points (150 pts) and 4.1 rebounds (29 rebs). His 25 points at Georgetown are the most among the five outings while 14 versus Alabama are the fewest. The 14 points at Alabama marked the only time in the seven games he didn't reach 20 or more points. 

 

► ALL HANDS ON DECK
The Red Wolves bench production has stood out in all 13 games this year as A-State has more bench points in 12 of the 13 games.

On the season, A-State has outscored opponents benches 401-244, a difference of 12.1 points per game.

Deven Simms is the Red Wolves second-leading scorer with 13.2 points per game and has come off the bench in each game. Tamas Bruce (6.8) and Connor Kern (5.8) have also come off the bench in each game and rank sixth and seventh, respectively, in scoring. 

 

► DEFENDING THE TREY
Eight of the 13 opponents thus far have shot 28 percent or less from 3-point range against the Red Wolves. SIUE (Nov. 22), TCU (Dec. 3), Central Arkansas (Dec. 16), Alabama (Dec. 21) and Minnesota (Dec. 23) are the exceptions. SIUE finished 5-for-13 (38.5 percent) while TCU and Central Arkansas were both 7-for-19 (36.8 percent). Alabama was 4-for-13 (30.8 percent) from beyond the arc and Minnesota was 7-for-15 (46.7 percent).    

A-State held UT Martin (Dec. 14) to 20 percent (1-for-5) from 3-point range in the first half marking the seventh time in 10 games an opponent had shot 20 percent or less. 

After 13 games, opponents are shooting 27.9 percent (65-233) from long range, ranking A-State fourth nationally in 3-point field goal percentage defense. 

A-State's 2009-10 team held opponents to 29.3 percent (161-550) beyond the arc, the lowest percentage a Red Wolves team was responsible 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 450-106 (.809) 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. 

Off to a 9-4 start, McCasland has the best start of any A-State head coach in program history. 

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.

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 fourth at 9-4 overall. 

 

 RACKING UP THE MILES
It's been over a month since A-State last played a home and the Red Wolves have racked up nearly 3,500 miles since the last home game on Nov. 30. 

A-State has traveled over 6,200 miles already this season with road games at North Dakota State (2,958 miles), Georgetown and the pair of games at Army (2,554) in addition to road games at TCU (970), UT Martin (280) and Central Arkansas (264). The trip to Huntsville for Wednesday's game against Alabama added 280 miles to the odometer. 

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

After the pair of home games to open league play, A-State hits the road again for games at Coastal Carolina and Appalachian State. That trip will cover 1,700 miles. 

 

 RECORD WATCH
With four assists against Cleveland State (Nov. 30), Donte Thomas passed 200 career assists in just 34 games played becoming the 13th player in program history with 200 or more assists. He has 86 assists in 13 games this year, an average of 6.6 per game. He needs 44 more assists to break into the top-10 among career leaders at A-State. Thomas ranks 5th among all Division I players in total assists (79) and 10th with 6.6 assists per game.    

Devin Carter has converted 45 treys this season and has made 133 3-pointers in his 44 games with A-State. With six more 3-pointers, Carter would rank eighth in program history for made 3-pointers. He currently ranks ninth shooting 40.8 percent (133-326) from 3-point range. Carter posted his 21st career game with 20 or more points at Minnesota (Dec. 23) and averages 17.4 points for his career, eighth most in program history. 

More on these records and the rankings in the last two years is available on page seven of the game notes linked above.