GAME PREVIEW
Troy
TROJANS
10-9 (2-3 SBC)
JAN 21 | 7:00 PM
Jonesboro, Ark.
Arkansas State
RED WOLVES
12-6 (3-2 SBC)
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107.9 KFIN
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► STORYLINES
 
Arkansas State returns to the Convocation Center to take on Troy Saturday at 7 p.m. Brad Bobo (play-by-play) and Nelson Catalina (analyst) will have the call on ESPN3 and the WatchESPN platform. 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 1,175-1121 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 12-6 start this season.  McCasland has a record of 211-49 (.812) in stops at Midland College (2004-09) and Midwestern State (2009-11).  His NCAA record is 68-18 (.791) with his 56-12 mark at Midwestern State and 12-6 ledger at A-State. 

Devin Carter had a game-high 28 points at Little Rock, the most scored by an A-State player against LIttle Rock in regulation since Dereke Tipler had 30 points on Jan. 9, 2006. 

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 eight active NCAA DI players with 225-plus assists (250) and 200-plus rebounds (220) since start of 2015-16 season.           

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). 

Jahmiah Simmons has a block in each game since returning from injury (Dec. 31) and ranks third in league games with seven total blocks.  

The Red Wolves are 10-0 when reaching 55 points first. A-State is 2-6 when opponents reach 55 points first, with the wins coming at Central Arkansas and Little Rock.  

A-State was ranked No. 116 in the KenPom rankings as of Jan. 19. A-State opened the season at No. 281 in these rankings and has made the biggest improvement (+165) of any program this season. 

 

► TRENDING UP
A-State is shooting 46.8 percent (469-1002) from the field, up from 42.8 percent (479-1120) at this point last season. From 3-point range, A-State is up from 31.1 percent (96-309) to 38.3 percent (125-326) this year. 

With 125 3-point baskets so far this year, A-State is on pace for 215 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 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. 

With five road wins this year, A-State has already tied for the fourth-most in single-season program history. The 1986-87 and 1973-74 teams hold the record with eight road wins.   

 

► 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 31st in 3-point field goals made (56) and 27th in 3-point field goals per game (3.11) among all NCAA Division I players this season entering play this weekend (Jan. 19).  

 

► SCOUTING REPORT: TROY
Troy comes to the Convocation Center with a record of 10-9 overall and a 2-3 mark in league play. The Trojans are coming off a weekend split with a win over UT Arlington (93-71) and loss to Texas State (71-75).      

The Trojans are led by three players in double figures: Jordon Varnado (15.2), Wesley Person (14.4) and Jeremy Hollimon (11.3). 

Varnado and DeVon Walker each lead the team in rebounding, grabbing 6.7 per game. As a team, Troy is averaging 39.7 boards and is +4.9 on the glass to rank third in the Sun Belt Conference. 

 

► SERIES HISTORY
Troy and Arkansas State meet up for the first time this season and 18th time overall. The Trojans lead the series 9-8.      

Troy has won each of the last three meetings at the Convocation Center, leaving Jonesboro with a 71-70 victory last year.    

The Red Wolves are in their 26th season of play in the Sun Belt Conference with a record of 209-218.  A-State is 139-74 (.653) at home and 70-144 (.327) on the road in Sun Belt Conference action.

  

► CLAWING BACK
The Red Wolves faced a 14-point deficit, 41-27, with 1:51 remaining at Little Rock, but came back to win 77-72. The comeback win marked the first time A-State has rallied from at least a 14-point deficit to win since December 1, 2001 at St. Bonaventure.        

The win at Little Rock also marked the first win for A-State this season when trailing at halftime or in the final five minutes. Prior to Saturday's win, A-State's last win when trailing at halftime came on Jan. 28, 2016 with a 75-69 overtime win over Georgia 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 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 25 games against Sun Belt foes, Carter has averaged 17.6 points on 45.2 percent (147-325) shooting, including 41.5 percent (73-176) beyond the arc. With 28 points at Little Rock, Carter has 12 games with 20 or more points in league play. 

 

► 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 18 games. On the season, A-State has outscored opponents benches 510-353, a difference of 8.7 points per game. Deven Simms is the Red Wolves second-leading scorer with 12.1 points per game and has come off the bench in each game. 

 

► DEFENDING THE TREY
Ten of the 18 opponents thus far have shot 28 percent or less from 3-point range against the Red Wolves.      

A-State held Little Rock (Jan. 14) to 20.0 percent (1-for-5) from 3-point range in the second half marking the ninth 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  35.8 percent (38-106) from 3-point range compared to 27.9 percent (65-233) in non-conference action. 

Opponents are shooting 30.4 percent (103-339) from long range to rank A-State 22nd 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 453-108 (.808) 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 fourth with 12-6 record. 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 6.8 points (41), 7.3 rebounds (44) on 57.1 percent shooting (16-28) while hitting 69.2 percent (9-13) at the charity stripe in an average of 15.0 minutes (90).   

 

 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 has seven blocks in league play, third-most entering play this weekend. He's had two blocks in back-to-back games against Appalachian State and Little Rock. 

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 25 more assists to break into the top-10 among career leaders at A-State. Thomas ranks 23rd among all Division I players in total assists (104) and 23rd with 5.8 assists per game.    

Devin Carter has converted 56 treys this season and has made 144 3-pointers in his 49 games with A-State. With five more 3-pointers, Carter would rank seventh in program history for made 3-pointers. He currently ranks ninth shooting 40.6 percent (144-355) from 3-point range. Carter posted his 23rd career game with 20 or more points versus Little Rock (Jan. 14) and averages 17.0 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.   

 

 HOME COURT ADVANTAGE
Off to a 6-0 start at home for the 18th time in program history, A-State looks to continue the hot start on the home court. The last time A-State started 6-0 at home was back in the 2012-13 season (7-0). 

This season, A-State has outscored opponents an average of 21.7 points per game, 83.3 to 61.7, while shooting 52.8 percent from the field and 40 percent beyond the arc. The Red Wolves have held opponents to 38.6 percent shooting and 28.2 percent behind the 3-point line.