GAME PREVIEW
Georgia Southern
EAGLES
17-11 (10-5 SBC)
FEB 25 | 7:00 PM
Convocation Center
Arkansas State
RED WOLVES
19-8 (10-4 SBC)
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► STORYLINES
 
Arkansas State closes the regular season with four games in eight days beginning Saturday at 7 p.m. against Georgia Southern. Brad Bobo (play-by-play) and Nelson Catalina (analyst) call the action on ESPN3 while  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 1,182-1123 all-time record (.513) 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 19-8 start this season.  McCasland has a record of 218-51 (.810) in stops at Midland College (2004-09) and Midwestern State (2009-11).  His NCAA record is 75-20 (.790) with his 56-12 mark at Midwestern State and 19-8 ledger at A-State.    

A-State has 19 wins, the second-highest total for regular season wins. Three teams (1997-98, 1990-91, 1988-89) have won 20 regular season games.     

A-State has 19 total wins for the ninth time in 89 seasons. 

Donte Thomas is one of six active NCAA DI players with 300-plus assists (304) and 250-plus rebounds (265) since start of 2015-16 season.          

Devin Carter needs 22 more points to reach 1,000 in his two seasons at A-State. He'd become the 27th player in program history to 1,000 points, but only the third to do so in just two seasons played. 

Deven Simms averages 13.3 points per game off the bench, fourth most nationally among players with no starts this year. 

With the Red Wolves at 19 wins, Grant McCasland has the most wins by an Arkansas State head coach in his first season and is tied for the fourth-most by a Sun Belt coach in his first year.  

At 11-0 on the home floor, A-State is one of 15 teams to be unbeaten at home this season.  

A-State is 7-2 in games decided by six or fewer points this season. The Red Wolves entered this season with a 120-137 record in such games dating back to the 1991-92 season, the first year in the Sun Belt.  

The Red Wolves are 15-0 when reaching 55 points first. A-State is 4-8 when opponents reach 55 points first, with the wins coming against Central Arkansas, Little Rock, Troy and Appalachian State. 

A-State has climbed 184 spots in the KenPom rankings this season, most of any program this year. The Red Wolves opened the season at No. 290 and are No. 106 as of Feb. 23.  

 

► TRENDING UP
A-State is shooting 47.1 percent (706-1499) from the field, up from 41.8 percent (680-1628) at this point last season. From 3-point range, A-State is up from 32.1 percent (161-502) to 39.3 percent (192-489) this year.   

With 192 3-point baskets so far this year, A-State is on pace for 220 this season, which would be the fourth-most in school history and most since the 2013-14 team had 282. From 3-point range, A-State has hit 43 percent or better in 11 games, a total reached just five times last season. 

The Red Wolves have shot 50 percent or better in 12 games this year. Last season, A-State reached 50 percent or better in a total of six games. At 47.1 percent from the field, the Red Wolves would have the highest field goal percentage by an A-State team since the 1990-91 team finished at 51.1 percent. 

A-State is one of four teams, joined by Arizona, Furman and St. Mary's, to be ranked top-25 in 3-point field goal percentage and 3-point field goal percentage defense. 

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 17 more victories, including wins over SoCon preseason favorite Chattanooga (73-67) and Patriot League preseason favorite Lehigh (97-89).        

The Red Wolves are off to an 11-0 start at home for the first time since the 2010-11 season. This marks the sixth time since 1970-71 that an A-State team has started 10-0 on the home floor. 

With seven road wins this year, A-State has already tied for the second-most in single-season program history. The 1986-87 and 1973-74 teams hold the record with eight road wins while the 2013-14 and 1997-98 teams had seven. 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 had 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.   

 

► RECORD SEASON IN SIGHT
With four regular season games to play, A-State has the chance to post the best regular season record in program history.   

Three teams, the 1997-98 squad (20-9), the 1990-91 team (20-7) and the 1988-89 team (20-8) each colleted 20 regular season wins. This team marks the fifth in 89 seasons to win 19 regular season games.

The program record for single-season wins is 23, set by the 1990-91 team. A-State has reached 20 wins five times, the last coming in the 1997-98 campaign.   

 

► SCOUTING REPORT: GEORGIA SOUTHERN
Georgia Southern enters the Convocation Center with a 17-11 record and a 10-5 mark in league play.

The Eagles feature the top two leading scorers in the Sun Belt with Ike Smith (19.8) and Tookie Brown (18.1). Mike Hughes (11.0) also averages double figures for Georgia Southern.

Smith leads the team on the glass, averaging 5.0 rebounds per game. Montae Glenn (4.9) and Coye Simmons (4.8) are near five boards per game.

 

► SERIES HISTORY
A-State and Georgia Southern meet for the 12th time overall and fifth time in Sun Belt action.   

Georgia Southern has won each of the last seven meetings, including all four Sun Belt Conference matchups. 

Last season, the Eagles defeated A-State 71-66 in the Convocation Center and handed the Red Wolves a 90-59 loss in Statesboro. 

The Red Wolves are in their 26th season of play in the Sun Belt Conference with a record of 216-220.  A-State is 144-74 (.661) at home and 71-146 (.327) on the road in Sun Belt Conference action. 

  

► 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 34 games against Sun Belt foes, Carter has averaged 17.1 points on 45.1 percent (1906-435) shooting, including 42 percent (102-243) beyond the arc. With 25 points against Appalachian State, Carter has 15 games with 20 or more points in league play and 26 overall in 58 games played. Carter's 26 games with 20-plus points since start of the 2015-16 season rank as the 10th-most in NCAA Division I 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 versus Appalachian State (Feb. 4) marked the fourth time in a six game span that A-State had rallied to win after trailing at halftime. The win at Little Rock, down 43-31 at halftime, marked the first win for A-State this season when trailing at halftime or in the final five minutes. A-State trailed Troy 39-34 at the break and ULM 33-32 before coming from behind to win.

 

► SIXTH MAN
Deven Simms ranks second on the team, averaging 13.4 points per game. That total ranks as the fourth-most among players who have yet to start a game this year. Reginal Johnson of Alcorn State (15.9), Justin James of Wyoming (15.0) and Damiyne Durham of Cal State-Bakersfield (13.8) rank ahead of Simms. A-State is 13-4 this season when Simms reaches double figures.    

The Red Wolves bench production has been a key this year as A-State has more bench points in 22 of the 27 games. On the season, A-State has outscored opponents benches 748-510, a difference of 8.8 points per game.

 

► 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 ranks 25th in 3-point field goals made (85) and 17th in 3-point field goals per game (3.15) among all NCAA Division I players this season entering play this weekend (Feb. 23). With 173 made 3-point baskets in his time at A-State, Carter ranks 12th for the most since the start of the 2015-16 season.  

His 2.98 3-pointers per game (58 games) ranked 12th among all active Division I players entering the weekend.  The Red Wolves are 11-2 this season, the losses at TCU and UT Arlington, when Carter makes three or more 3-pointers.

 

► 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 460-110 (.807) with 17 seasons of head coaching positions at various levels. 

► HOME COURT ADVANTAGE
A-State is off to a 11-0 start at home for the sixth time in program history. The last time A-State started 11-0 at home was the 2010-11 season in which the team finished 13-0.  

This season, A-State has outscored opponents an average of 14.9 points per game, 79.0 to 64.1, while shooting 51.0 percent from the field and 38.3 percent beyond the arc. The Red Wolves have held opponents to 41.6 percent shooting and 30.9 percent behind the 3-point line. 

 

► SUCCESS IN CLOSE GAMES
Head Coach Grant McCasland and the Red Wolves are 7-2 in games decided by six or fewer points. A-State suffered its first two losses in that situation over the weekend, at UTA 71-65 and at Texas State 62-58.    

Prior to this season, A-State was 120-137 dating back to the first year as a Sun Belt member (1991-92). The Red Wolves had 15 games decided by six or fewer points last season and went 7-8 in those games.

 

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

With 19 wins thus far, McCasland has the most wins by any first year coach at Arkansas State. Those 19 wins tie for the fourth-most by a Sun Belt head coach in his first season.   

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 have NBA head coaching experience: Terry Porter (Portland) and Mike Dunleavy Sr. (Tulane).

At 18-8, A-State has the third-best record among teams with a first year Division I head coach. The Red Wolves win percentage (.692) has improved by 35.9 percent over last year (.323), the second-best improvement by any program with a new head coach this season behind Maryland-Baltimore County. 

 

 DEFEND THE TREY
15 of the 27 opponents thus far have shot 28 percent or less from 3-point range.   

A-State held Texas State (Feb. 13) to 20 percent (1-5) from 3-point range in the second half marking the 13th 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 back on Jan. 7, 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 32.3 percent (91-282) from 3-point range compared to 27.9 percent (65-233) in non-conference action. 

Opponents are shooting 30.3 percent (156-615) from long range to rank A-State 14th nationally in 3-point field goal percentage defense entering the weekend. 

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. 

 

 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. He matched that career high with 19 points against Troy (Jan. 21). 

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 8.4 points (92), 6.0 rebounds (66) on 61.5 percent shooting (40-65) in an average of 16.7 minutes (184).     

 

 MIAH OH MY
Jahmiah Simmons found success in the pair of games against Appalachian State and Coastal Carolina. For the four games, he averaged 12 points and 6.3 rebounds along with seven blocks and three steals. He scored a career high 16 points at Appalachian State (Jan. 9) and narrowly missed a double-double against the Mountaineers with eight points and nine rebounds on Feb. 4. He had double figures against the Chanticleers in each game, making his first start when against Coastal Carolina (Feb. 6).    

The 6-4 freshman has been a key on the glassin league games, ranking third on the team in with 4.9 per game. Averaging 4.7 rebounds overall this year, Simmons is one of five freshmen at A-State since the 1992-93 season to average at least four rebounds per game. 

Simmons has 16 blocks in league play, fourth most of any Sun Belt Conference player in league only games.  He is one of only four freshmen at A-State since 1992-93 with 16 or more blocks in a season.

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
Donte Thomas needs two more assists to move to eighth all-time in career assists by an A-State player. With 158 assists this season, Thomas passed his total from last year (146) and is on pace to finish with 181 this season, a total that would rank fifth-most in single-season program history. Thomas ranked 18th among all Division I players in total assists (158) and 20th with 5.9 assists per game ahead of Saturday's game. 

Devin Carter has converted 85 treys this season and has made 173 3-pointers in his 58 games with A-State. With four more 3-pointers, Carter would rank fourth in program history for made 3-pointers. He currently ranks eighth shooting 41.0 percent (173-422) from 3-point range. Carter posted his 26th career game with 20 or more points versus Appalachian State (Feb. 4) and averages 16.9 points for his career, ninth most in program history. Carter has 978 total points and is within reach of becoming the 27th player with 1,000 points. Of the 26 to score 1,000 points, only Adrian Banks (1081 - 54 games) and Dewarick Spencer (1073 - 57 games) did it in two seasons. 

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

 

 THE LAW FIRM OF DEVIN & DEVEN
Devin Carter and Deven Simms are the Red Wolves leading scorers and the duo has provided an average of 29.8 points per game. 

In the second half alone, Carter has reached double figures nine times while Simms has double figures in the second half of seven games. 

On the season, A-State is 12-3 when Carter and Simms combined for 30 or more points. The three losses came at UT Arlington, Minnesota and TCU. 

 

 A RARE SIGHT TO SEE
A-State and Troy each shot 58 percent from the floor and 50 percent from 3-point range, something that has happened in only three NCAA Division I games since the beginning of the 2010-11 season. IPFW and Denver on Feb. 13, 2016 along with Northern Iowa against Missouri State on Jan. 18, 2014 are the other two games to feature 58 percent shooting by both teams and 50 percent beyond the arc. 

 

 LIGHTS OUT
A-State made 13-straight field goals and scored 60 points in the second half to leave the Cajundome with an 88-69 victory on Jan. 30. It marked the first win against the Ragin' Cajuns in Lafayette since Dec. 17, 2006.

The Red Wolves scored 50 points over the final 12 minutes of the game. For comparison, only 37 times in NBA history has a team scored 50 or more points in a 12-minute quarter.