We don't know yet if this is going to be a special season for Arkansas State basketball but we already know it’s been pretty special for non-conference road victories.
Friday night’s 82-77 victory over UCA in Conway was the fourth non-conference road victory this season and the most since Nelson Catalina’s 1986-87 team.
The victory did improve the Red Wolves to 9-2 on the season, the best start in an 11-2 mark in 2003-04.
In somewhat or a trap game -- the Bears are 1-9 on the season but were just playing their second game at home -- A-State started strong, stumbled and let the Bears take the lead then found another gear the take the victory.
UCA, which started the second half 9 of 12 shooting, took a 54-51 lead with 14:36 left and maintained the upper hand for a little more than two minutes.
Trailing 61-60 and coming out of a timeout, C.J. Foster scored off an alley-oop dunk from Donte Thomas, to regain the lead, and Connor Kern had a steal and a layup to ignite a 14-0 run for the Red Wolves to regain the lead. UCA got no closer than 7 the rest of the night.
Devin Carter led the way with 20 points, Deven Simms had 19 (on 8 of 9 shooting), Connor Kern 11 and Tamas Bruce 10. Thomas had a career-best 13 assists to go with 8 points and 6 rebounds.
“At halftime, I was all over Donte Thomas, but he was special in the second half,’’ said coach Grant McCasland. “Finishing with 13 assists and one turnover is a phenomenal effort. He gave us a ton of energy and out of the timeout, (associate head coach) Ross Hodge calls the alley-oop play that Donte threw to C.J. and that was such a pivotal play.
“Simms was super-efficient and C.J. was solid again, but the guy that made the difference was Connor Kern. He made huge shots, but he stole the ball on one end, blocked a shot on a wide open layup and then finger rolled in a layup on the other end. Donte Thomas and Connor Kern in the second half really changed this game.”
--The crowd of 1,942 featured was about half A-State fans.
--UCA’s other home game was an 89-87 overtime loss to UALR.
--The Red Wolves wore their new black uniforms for the first time.
--Kern had the best game of his career with 11 points, 3 rebounds, 1 steal and 1 block.
--The contest was the middle game of a five-game road trip that had included games at TCU and Tennessee-Martin. The final two legs are trips to Alabama and Minnesota.
A-State returns to action Wednesday at the Rocket City Classic in Huntsville, Ala., with an 8 p.m. matchup against Alabama. The game airs on SEC Network+ and ESPN3.