FAYETTEVILLE -- The University of Arkansas Razorbacks cooled off the nation's hottest three-point shooting team on Friday night in Walton Arena.
Arkansas beat South Dakota 77-56 before an announced crowd of 12,581 and made sure the Coyotes never got going from beyond the arc.
South Dakota, which hit 47 of 92 three-pointers in its first five games to lead the nation at 51.1%, was 3 of 12 against the Razorbacks.
"Obviously, coming into the game three-point defense was really going to be the name of the game," Arkansas Coach Eric Musselman said. "I thought our guys stepped up to the challenge of defending the three-point line."
Coyotes 6-10 senior Tyler Hagedorn was 0 of 2 from beyond the arc after coming into the game leading the nation at 84.2% (16 of 19).
Senior guard Cody Kelley made two of South Dakota's three-pointers, with junior Stanley Umude making the other.
"Holding South Dakota to three threes is not easy," Musselman said. 'They did an incredible job of knocking down threes prior to tonight. They're well coached. They execute. They cut hard. Their players understand their roles."
Musselman said the Razorbacks (5-0) made an adjustment defensively to keep the Coyotes (5-1) from getting open looks.
"We changed our pick-and-roll defense, and we switched and went to an immediate deny, which we have not done here in the first four games," Musselman said. "It's something that we did [at Nevada] against Davidson a few years ago, a team that loved to take a lot of threes, and their center could shoot threes.
"I thought our perimeter guys did a great job of switching to a deny."
South Dakota started 1 of 8 on three-pointers. By the time Kelley hit the Coyotes' third three-pointer with 2:11 left the Razorbacks had built a 23-point lead.
"If they could get in here and knock those down, then it's a totally different ballgame for us," said Razorbacks senior guard Jimmy Whitt, who led the Razorbacks with a career-high 24 points and added 7 rebounds and 3 steals. "That was a big issue for us, that we wanted to be able to contain the three-point line tonight. I felt like we did that."
Arkansas has held its opponents to a combined 13.6% on three-pointers (11 of 81). Montana had the most three-pointers against the Razorbacks, hitting 4 of 20.
"I think it's effort," Whitt said. "It all comes down to how hard you're going to play.
"For teams that shoot threes, you've got to close the air space as Coach likes to say. You've got to have a hand up when they're trying to shoot before they even catch the ball. Things we did in practice led up to what we were able to do tonight."
South Dakota, which trailed by as many as 19 points in the first half and was down 39-24 at halftime, pulled within 62-52 wth 7:00 left on two free throws by Hagedorn.
Arkansas then outscored the Coyotes 15-4 the final 6:48 to put the game away.
Whitt started the run by hitting a jump shot.
Razorbacks junior guard Mason Jones, who had 14 points and seven rebounds, grabbed a Whitt miss and scored on a drive, was fouled, and hit free throw to quickly make it 67-52.
Arkansas kept extending the lead as junior guard Jalen Harris hit 4 of 4 free throws. Jones hit two more free throws in the run to extend his streak to 36 consecutive, including 27 of 27 this season.
"I think it was more so on the defensive end for us," Whitt said of South Dakota missing 8 of 9 shots and having a turnover on its last 10 possessions. "I feel like offensively, we were fine. It's just that we needed to get stops, and stops were going to spark it for us.
"That's always huge when you can get multiple stops and then go out on the other end and score points."
The Razorbacks, who won their first four games by an average of 30 points, ran the shot clock down in the final minutes against South Dakota.
"We started with about 6 1/2 minutes left where we ran a wing pick-and-roll every single time down the floor and spaced it and didn't try to attack the rim until between seven seconds were left on the clock," Musselman said. "Doing it for the first time I was a little shaky on how we would handle it, but I'm really proud how our guys understood how to milk that thing."
Hagedorn led South Dakota with 15 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists. Junior forward Stanley Umude added 13 points.
Arkansas senior forward Adrio Bailey had 7 points, 3 rebounds and 3 steals. Harris had 8 points, senior forward Jeantal Cylla 7, sophomore forward Reggie Chaney and sophomore guard Desi Sills 6 each, and sophomore guard Isaiah Jone 5.
Whitt hit 11 of 14 shots, including 8 of 11 on mid-range jumpers.
"For all those analytic guys who think the mid-range game has gone out of basketball, welcome to Jimmy Whitt's world," Musselman said. "Jimmy's shot selection is so good.
"Every time he shoots it, it's a good shot. It close to the rim. He elevates over the defense. People probably don't recognize there are a lot of times where the other team's four-man guards him, and I think that's an advantage for us.
"Teams know that he's got kind of an inside game and every time somebody puts a four-man on him, he kills that matchup. So hopefully other teams will keep doing it."
Whitt, a graduate transfer from SMU who is back at Arkansas after playing for the Razorbacks as a freshman, also scored 24 points against Cincinnati with the Mustangs last season.
"I think it was one of those games where I had the hot hand," Whitt said. "My teammates every time down the court were telling me to shoot it.
"So it was just one of those games where I could get to my spot, they were encouraging me."
Joe, averaging a team-leading 20.5 points coming into the game, shot 2 of 10, but led the Razorbacks 5 assists and had 5 rebounds.
"That's just what great players do," Whitt said. "They find a way to contribute even if it's not scoring."
RECORDS Arkansas 5-0, South Dakota 5-1
STARS Arkansas senior guard Jimmy Whitt (24 points, 7 rebounds, 3 steals) and junior guard Mason Jones (14 points, 7 rebounds). South Dakota senior forward Tyler Hagedorn (15 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists)
KEY STAT The Razorbacks held the Coyotes to 3-of-12 shooting on three-point attempts.
UP NEXT Arkansas plays Georgia Tech at 6 p.m. Monday in Atlanta.
Arkansas’ Jimmy Whitt drives against South Dakota’s Triston Simpson during the Razorbacks’ victory over the Coyotes on Friday night at Walton Arena in Fayetteville. Whitt led Arkansas with 24 points and seven rebounds.
Arkansas forward Adrio Bailey (2) shoots a three-pointer Friday over South Dakota forward Tyler Hagedorn during the Razorbacks’ 77- 56 victory over the Coyotes at Walton Arena in Fayetteville. More photos are available at arkansasonline.com/1123basketball
Sports on 11/23/2019
Print Headline: Hogs turn up the heat against sharpshooters