GAME PREVIEW
Little Rock
TROJANS
11-6 (2-2 SBC)
JAN 14 | 6:00 PM (CT)
Little Rock, Ark.
Arkansas State
RED WOLVES
11-6 (2-2 SBC)
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107.9 KFIN
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► STORYLINES
 
Arkansas State men's basketball visits Little Rock for a 6:00 p.m. matchup at the Jack Stephens Center Saturday. The game will stream live on the Little Rock All-Access (paid) and 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 1,174-1,121 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 11-6 start this season.  McCasland has a record of 210-49 (.811) in stops at Midland College (2004-09) and Midwestern State (2009-11).  His NCAA record is 67-18 (.788) with his 56-12 mark at Midwestern State and 11-6 ledger at A-State.

Rashad Lindsey scored 27 points in the conference opener against Louisiana, the most by any A-State player in his conference debut (1936-2017 in Southland, American South or Sun Belt game).

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 10 active NCAA DI players with 225-plus assists (243) and 200-plus rebounds (218) since start of 2015-16 season. 

Guards are responsible for 354 of the 618 team rebounds (57.3 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 team since the 1986-87 season (4). The most in any season came in 1973-74 (5). 

Devin Carter was held to 10 points (7 at Coastal Carolina, 3 at Appalachian State) in road games last weekend. He had scored double figures in each of his first 22 Sun Belt Conference games. 

Arkansas State and Little Rock enter the game with identical 11-6 records and a 2-2 mark in league play, but the two teams have also allowed the same amount of points this season - 1,163 (68.4 PPG). 

A-State was ranked No. 124 in the KenPom rankings as of Jan. 12. A-State opened the season at No. 281 in these rankings and has made the biggest improvement (+157) of any program this season. 

 

► TRENDING UP
A-State is shooting 46.7 percent (446-955) from the field, up from 43.4 percent (457-1054) at this point last season. From 3-point range, A-State is up from 31.6 percent (89-282) to 38.6 percent (120-311) this year. 

With 120 3-point baskets so far this year, A-State is on pace for 219 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 eight of 17 games (Central Baptist, Georgetown, Chattanooga, SIUE, Lehigh, Cleveland State, Minnesota, Louisiana) 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 seven games (Central Baptist, Georgetown, Chattanooga, Lehigh, UT Martin, Louisiana, Appalachian State) already, a total reached just 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 at UT Martin (Dec. 14) to set a single-game school record. He becomes the fourth player in NCAA Division I action to hit 10 3-pointers, second-most in any game this season (13 - Darius Dawkins of Jacksonville).  

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).

Carter ranks 19th in 3-point field goals made (53) and 30th in 3-point field goals per game (3.12) among all NCAA Division I players this season entering play this weekend (Jan. 12).  

 

► SCOUTING REPORT: LITTLE ROCK
Little Rock enters Saturday's game with an identical record as A-State at 11-6 over and 2-2 in league play. The Trojans, like the Red Wolves, have allowed 1,163 points on the season, an average of 68.4 per game.     

The Trojans have four players averaging double figures, led by Marcus Johnson Jr. at 13.8 points per game. 

Lis Shoshi (7.8) and Maurius Hill (5.4) lead the team on the glass as Little Rock has posted a plus-3.2 rebound margin this year.  

 

► SERIES HISTORY
The most played series in program history resumes Saturday with the 84th meeting between the in-state rivals. A-State leads the all-time series 50-33, but the two teams are an even 28-28 in games played as Sun Belt Conference rivals.  A-State won the first 17 meetings of the series (1928-1980), but since the series is 33-33.     

Little Rock has won eight of the last 12 meetings and the two teams split the season series last year. The Red Wolves haven't won at the Jack Stephens Center since Jan. 29, 2011 (75-64).    

The Red Wolves are in their 26th season of play in the Sun Belt Conference with a record of 208-218.  A-State is 139-74 (.653) at home and 69-144 (.324) on the road in Sun Belt Conference action. 

  

► GUARDS CRASHING THE BOARDS
Guards are responsible for 354 of the 618 team rebounds (57.3 percent) thus far.       

Forward Tamas Bruce leads the team in rebounding (5.1), but Deven Simms (4.5) and Donte Thomas (4.1) are second and third, respectively.  

 

► 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 established career highs in points in back-to-back 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 against ULM as he reached double figures with 10 rebounds, five of which came on the offensive glass.    

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. 

In 24 games against Sun Belt foes, Carter has averaged 17.2 points on 44.7 percent (138-309) shooting, including 41.7 percent (70-168) beyond the arc. Carter was held to a conference game low three points on 1-of-4 shooting at Appalachian State. Over the last two league games, Carter had 10 points, his only Sun Belt games without reaching double figures. 

 

► ALL HANDS ON DECK
The Red Wolves bench production has been a key this year as A-State has more bench points in 14 of the 17 games. On the season, A-State has outscored opponents benches 481-314, a difference of 9.8 points per game. Deven Simms is the Red Wolves second-leading scorer with 11.4 points per game and has come off the bench in each game.  

Over the last six games, A-State has had four different leading scorers. Two of the four leading scorers have come off the bench with Simms leading the way with 15 points against Alabama and Jahmiah Simmons posting a career high 14 points at Coastal Carolina and improving on that with 16 at Appalachian State. Rashad Lindsey had a career best 27 to lead the team against Louisiana and Devin Carter led the team at Minnesota with 23 points and had game-high 20 points against ULM, one more than Tamas Bruce's 19 points. 

 

► DEFENDING THE TREY
Nine of the 17 opponents thus far have shot 28 percent or less from 3-point range against the Red Wolves.      

A-State held ULM (Jan. 2) to 16.7 percent (2-for-12) from 3-point range in the second half marking the eighth time an opponent had shot 20 percent or less in a half this season. 

Coastal Carolina busted the Red Wolves 3-point defense for 14 makes, the most allowed this season and most since ULM hit 14 on Feb. 13 last year.  In conference play, A-State has allowed opponents to shoot  37.2 percent (35-94) from 3-point range compared to 27.9 percent (65-233) in non-conference action. 

Opponents are shooting 30.6 percent (100-327) from long range to rank A-State 37th 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 Midland College (NJCAA). 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 452-108 (.807) 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.  

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 tied for third with 11 wins. Of the 50 coaches in their first season at respective school, 18 have 11 or more wins thus far. 

 

 WELCOME TO THE #FUNBELT
Junior guard Rashad Lindsey had quite the Sun Belt Conference debut, pouring in 27 points as A-State opened league play with a 74-71 victory over Louisiana (Dec. 31). 

The 27 points are the most scored by an A-State player in a conference opener since Ryan Wedel had 30 points at FAU on Dec. 20, 2007. As a junior college transfer, Lindsey now holds an A-State record for the most points scored in a conference debut. His 27 points rank as the fourth-most by any A-State player in a Sun Belt Conference opener.  

 

 BRUCE ALMIGHTY
Tamas Bruce, starting in his third-straight game, had a career night against ULM (Jan. 2). Bruce had career highs of 19 points and 15 minutes while playing 24 minutes. 

Bruce is one of six players this season to have at least 15 points and 15 rebounds while playing 25 or fewer minutes. The six players to do so are; Wyatt Walker (Samford | Nov. 26 vs Bethune-Cookman) with 19 points and 15 rebounds in 20 minutes, John Collins (Wake Forest | Dec. 6 vs Charlotte) with  22 points and 15 rebounds in 21 minutes, Tamas Bruce (Arkansas State | Jan. 2 vs ULM) with 19 points and 15 rebounds in 24 minutes, Michael Buchanan (USC Upstate | Dec. 4 vs Colgate) with 24 points and 15 rebounds in 24 minutes, Tacko Fall (UCF | Nov. 14 vs Nicholls) with 16 points and 16 rebounds in 25 minutes and Jerome Frink (Long Island University | Nov. 11 vs John Jay) with 17 points and 16 rebounds in 25 minutes.  

As a starter, Bruce is averaging 7.8 points (39), 7.6 rebounds (38) on 57.7 percent shooting (15-26) while hitting 69.2 percent (9-13) at the charity stripe in an average of 15.8 minutes (79).  

 

 MIAH OH MY
Jahmiah Simmons had a big weekend for A-State, scoring 30 points in the pair of road games at Coastal Carolina and Appalachian State. Simmons entered the weekend with 32 points for his career in eight games, but posted back-to-back career highs of 14 at Coastal Carolina and 16 at Appalachian State. 

The 6-4 freshman has also been a force on the glass, leading the team with seven rebounds at Appalachian State. Simmons has registered a block in each of his last five games played, with a career best of two against the Mountaineers.

Simmons played for current A-State assistant coach Jareem Dowling on the U.S. Virgin Islands U-18 team in the FIFA Americas this past summer and led the tournament in rebounding (11.6 per game). 

 

 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 needs 30 more assists to break into the top-10 among career leaders at A-State. Thomas ranks 14th among all Division I players in total assists (99) and 23rd with 5.8 assists per game.    

Devin Carter has converted 53 treys this season and has made 141 3-pointers in his 48 games with A-State. With eight more 3-pointers, Carter would rank seventh in program history for made 3-pointers. He currently ranks ninth shooting 40.6 percent (141-347) from 3-point range. Carter posted his 22nd career game with 20 or more points versus ULM (Jan. 2) and averages 16.8 points for his career, ninth 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.