Arkansas defense chills upset-minded North Texas 66-43
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) — Bud Walton Arena’s rims have been unkind to opposing teams through two games.
Arkansas limited North Texas to 2 of 17 shooting from behind the arc and 33 percent overall in a 66-43 triumph on Tuesday night in front of 12,001 fans.
“I thought we played with great defensive enthusiasm tonight,” Arkansas coach Eric Musselman said.
Through two contests, visiting opponents are a combined 4 for 42 shooting from the perimeter. The 86 total points given up by the Razorbacks thus far is the fewest surrendered in a two-game span since the 2004-05 season.
Mason Jones and Isaiah Joe each tallied 16 points as Arkansas leaned on its defense in defeating North Texas, with 11 steals and scoring 22 points off 18 Mean Green turnovers.
Jimmy Whitt, a graduate transfer from SMU who originally played for Arkansas during the 2015-16 season, joined Jones and Joe in double figures with 13 after struggling in the season opener.
“I love going out and battling with these guys and seeing the energy in the building,” Whitt said. “I really like that. I feel like it’s picked up from my freshman year, and I love to see it and love that I get to end my career like this.”
The Razorbacks (2-0) led 28-16 at halftime, which was the second consecutive outing that they had held their opponent under 20 points in a half.
North Texas cut into the lead after intermission and only trailed by five near the under-16 timeout but Joe hit a 3-pointer going into the break and Jones added an old-fashioned three-point play after the stoppage to go back up double digits.
“You can tell we’ve got a young team,” North Texas coach Grant McCasland said. “We got sped up a little too much at times and just couldn’t execute well enough to take advantage of it. But give them credit, because they did a good job of fronting the post and keeping us with our head down because of their pressure.”
North Texas: The Mean Green have an ambitious non-conference schedule, as they have already played VCU and Arkansas, while still having games left against Rhode Island, No. 17 Utah State, Oklahoma and Dayton.
Arkansas: This week saw the Razorbacks begin to gain votes in the top 25 poll, and they won’t leave the state until they travel to Georgia Tech on November 26.
ON THE GLASS
After dominating the paint against Rice, Arkansas wasn’t able to have the same success against North Texas. The Mean Green won the rebounding battle 37-24 and outscored the Razorbacks 28-20 in the paint.
“We took a step backward on the glass tonight,” Musselman said. “We’ll have to go back to the drawing board on that on Thursday and Friday.”
Adrio Bailey had a big putback dunk midway through the second half but was assessed a technical foul for hanging on the rim.
“I apologized to my teammates after it happened,” Bailey said. “It was just the heat of the moment kind of deal.”
Arkansas only played seven players and three of the five starters (Joe, Jones, Desi Sills) all logged 33 minutes or more. Jalen Harris and Jeantal Cylla were the only players to come off the bench.
North Texas returns home to face Eastern Michigan on Saturday.
Arkansas hosts Montana on Saturday in the first game of the Collegiate Hoops Roadshow.
More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25