FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas owns the third-ranked defense in Division I and it was on full display Friday against South Dakota in a 77-56 victory.
The undefeated Razorbacks (5-0) entered the game allowing just 45.3 points per game through its first four and opponents were shooting just 32 percent. It took all of about seven minutes for that defense to smother the Coyotes.
A 16-2 run in the middle of the first half gave the Razorbacks a 17-point lead before the third media timeout. Arkansas built its 39-24 halftime advantage by getting buckets from all eight players who saw time.
South Dakota (5-1), which led the nation in 3-point shooting, knocking down 51 percent of their tries beyond the arc, managed to go just 3 of 12 from deep Friday.
Arkansas received just 5 points from leading scorer Isaiah Joe, who entered averaging 20.5 per game, but Jimmy Whitt tied a career high with 24 to pace the way.
Arkansas: The Razorbacks continued their perfect start under first-year coach Eric Musselman. Arkansas has started the season 5-0 for the first time since the 2014-15 season. Combined with the impressive defensive statistics, Musselman's team has outplayed its preseason projection to finish 11th in the SEC. The Razorbacks have never finished that low since the league shed its Eastern and Western divisions for a combined conference in 2010-11.
South Dakota: The Coyotes, picked second in the Summit League in the preseason and at times they looked the part, lingering with Arkansas better than any of the Razorbacks' previous four opponents until urgency in the final 10 minutes led to ill-advised shots and a big Arkansas finish.
The Razorbacks will go to Atlanta on Monday for their first power-conference game of the season against Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets lost 82-78 to rival Georgia earlier this week.
South Dakota travels to California Baptist on Wednesday for a game against the Western Athletic Conference's Lancers.
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