2021 NCAA Tournament: Arkansas overcomes early deficit, runs past Colgate
Photo: Joe Robbins

Arkansas won an NCAA Tournament game for the first time since 2017 with an 85-68 victory over Colgate in the first round at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

Justin Smith posted a double-double for the Razorbacks, scoring a career-high 27 points and grabbing 12 rebounds. Jalen Tate added 17 and SEC Sixth Man of the Year J.D. Notae had 14 as Arkansas will face sixth seed Texas Tech in the second round.

Nelly Cummings led Colgate (14-2) with 14 points, Jordan Burns added 13, all in the second half and Jack Ferguson and Jeff Woodward had 11 apiece.

Huge Arkansas runs, second half defense turn back spirited Colgate effort

Moses Moody and Smith accounted for all 12 of Arkansas’ points as Colgate led 14-12 with 11:48 remaining in the first half. Arkansas tied the game at 17-17. Ferguson then hit a pair of three-pointers and a driving layup to key a 16-2 run by the Raiders to take a 33-19 lead.

Arkansas then went on a game-changing 17-0 run as Davonte Davis made back-to-back steals – scoring once and assisting once – on fast break layups to cut the deficit to 10. Tate and Davis continued to bring the Razorbacks back and a layup at the buzzer by the latter capped the run.

Justin Smith of Arkansas drives past Ryan Moffatt of Colgate during their NCAA Tournament first-round game/Photo: Joe Robbins/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

Colgate responded to Arkansas' opening basket of the second half to go on a 17-6 run to take a 50-44 lead with 13:49 left on Wodward's three-point play, making five of six field goals in that stretch. Burns' jumper made it 54-50.

Notae then spurred another Razorbacks rally with eight points as they took a 63-58 lead with 8:09 remaining and Arkansas' defense then turned up the pressure, holding Colgate scoreless for 3:41 to extend their advantage to 73-60. The Razorbacks made eight of ten free throws over the final 2:18 to secure the victory. Smith had 18 of 27 points in the second half.