Ninth-ranked Arkansas has forced 44 turnovers while winning its first two games.
The Razorbacks again will unleash their pressure defense on Wednesday night when they face South Dakota State in Fayetteville, Ark.
Arkansas (2-0) forced 30 turnovers during a 74-48 rout of Fordham on Friday. It was the most by a Razorbacks opponent since Louisiana-Monroe also committed 30 on Dec. 31, 2004.
“Defensively, I thought we were phenomenal,” fourth-year coach Eric Musselman said after the Fordham game. “I don’t use that word often, but forcing 30 turnovers … I thought our defensive activity was phenomenal.”
Musselman also was proud to see his team hold the Rams under 50 points. Arkansas is limiting opponents to 53 points per game and 35.6 percent shooting from the field.
Ricky Council IV leads the Razorbacks in scoring (18.5 points per game) and assists (4.5 per game). Trevon Brazile also is off to a solid start, averaging 14.5 points and a team-best 10 rebounds.
Council, a transfer from Wichita State, had 15 points and seven assists against Fordham. He liked the way things came together against the Rams.
“For the first time, I feel like everybody was locked as one,” Council said. “We were all having fun playing defense. When the team has fun playing defense, it’s going to be hard to stop.”
The Razorbacks had 13 steals and held 30-15 edge in points off turnovers. Arkansas also had a dominating 54-20 advantage on points in the paint.
Outside shooting is a problem for the Razorbacks, as they are just 6 of 26 (23.1 percent) from 3-point range over the two games, including 2 of 16 against the Rams.
The shooting should improve whenever freshman phenom Nick Smith Jr. is cleared to play. The player considered a Top 5 NBA draft choice has been held out as a precaution due to a knee ailment.
The Jackrabbits (2-1) could be a bit tired against the Razorbacks because they played Tuesday night, knocking off St. Bonaventure 66-62 in Sioux Falls, S.D.
South Dakota State’s Matt Dentlinger scored 16 points and sophomore Zeke Mayo collected a career-high 13 rebounds.
The Jackrabbits trailed 53-47 with less than six minutes to play before rattling off 12 straight points to take the lead. South Dakota State never trailed again on a night in which it committed a whopping 25 turnovers.
“I think defensively as a connected unit, we’re playing really well,” South Dakota coach Eric Henderson said afterward. “There’s a lot of different ways to win. We’ve had dynamic offenses the last couple years to look back on, but we just didn’t have that (Tuesday night).
“(St. Bonaventure) did a good job of mixing it up. At the end of the day, we have to start taking care of the ball a little better. That’s on me.”
Dentlinger is averaging a team-leading 16.7 points per game and is connecting on 70.8 percent of his shots (17 of 24).
South Dakota State split its first two games, losing 81-80 in overtime at Akron and posting a 68-66 road triumph over Boise State.
This will be the first-ever meeting between the Razorbacks and Jackrabbits.
–Field Level Media