Arkansas shuts down Colgate 85-68 in NCAA opener

Full Screen
1 / 7

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

Arkansas' JD Notae (1) and Colgate's Tucker Richardson (15) battle for a loose ball during the first half of a first round game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in the NCAA men's college basketball tournament, Friday, March 19, 2021, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

INDIANAPOLIS – The night before his team's NCAA Tournament opener, Arkansas coach Eric Musselman sat in a hotel room and talked with his son about using full-court pressure against Colgate.

The Razorbacks didn't use their “55” defense until after they'd fallen into a 14-point hole, but once they did, the Raiders had no answer.

Call it “24 Minutes of Hell.”

Justin Smith had 29 points and 13 rebounds, and Arkansas shut down high-scoring Colgate to open the NCAA Tournament with an 85-68 win on Friday.

“We knew we were going to unleash it,” Musselman said. “I didn't know if it was going to be in the second half or in the first half, when it might be. We talked about playing Justin at the 5 — we didn't say much to the team about it — and thought it could really speed things up.”

The 14th-seeded Raiders (14-2) had upset pickers out of their seats early in the South Region opener with a slew of 3-pointers and a 16-2 run to go up 14. The third-seeded Razorbacks (23-6) restored some bracket order with a 19-0 run spanning halftime and scored 10 straight points late to pull away.

Arkansas' defense was the difference.

In danger of becoming the bracket's first big upset victim, the Razorbacks switched from man defense (5) to full-court man (55) to swarm Colgate.