Siena dared to run-and-gun with one of the quickest teams in the nation. The gamble didn't pay off.
Kareem Reid set the Arkansas career assist record and the Razorbacks hit 15 shots from 3-point range Thursday, cruising to a 94-80 victory over Siena in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
Arkansas (23-10), the fourth seed in the West Regional, plays fifth-seeded Iowa on Saturday. The Hawkeyes (19-9) beat Alabama-Birmingham 77-64.
Siena (25-6) thrived on its pressure defense and fast-break offense all season, but committed 24 turnovers in failing to keep up with Arkansas and its revered "40 minutes of hell."
"I call it a street fight," Arkansas coach Nolan Richardson said. "We're good at street fighting. We're at our best when we're scrambling."
Chris Jefferies scored 16 points to lead five Razorbacks in double figures, and Reid finished with 10 of Arkansas' 28 assists to pass Lee Mayberry for the school record. Mayberry had 729 assists; Reid has 737.
"Coming into the game, I knew how many assists I needed," Reid said. "It's a great feeling and a great accomplishment because Lee Mayberry was a great player and he had nine players to pass to, which made it easier."
Siena, a small Franciscan school in Loudonville, N.Y., never managed to trap Reid anywhere on the floor, and the 13th-seeded Saints lacked the overall quickness to match the Razorbacks.
It didn't help that Arkansas hit 15 of 30 shots from behind the 3-point arc and 34-of-68 overall.
"Arkansas 3'd us out of the building," Siena coach Paul Hewitt said. "I just told our guys to keep doing what we have been doing in terms of pressuring them, trying to play our tempo, but if they continue to shoot the 3 like that, they are going to send us home."
After falling behind by 20 ponts early, Siena never came close to repeating its two-point upset of third-seeded Stanford in its only other tournament appearance 10 years ago.
"They're probably the quickest team we played this year, even last year," Siena's Corey Osinski said. "That gave us a problem, and when we did get traps on them, they were able to kick it out and it seemed like they hit every 3 they took."
Marcus Faison had 18 points and Osinski added 17 to lead the Saints, who trailed by 18 at halftime and fell behind 61-39 when Arkansas hit 4 of 5 3-pointers to open the second half.
The Razorbacks twice led by as many as 24 before Siena rallied against Arkansas' reserves late in the game.
"I think they tried to push the ball, but we pushed it harder," said Arkansas forward Chris Walker, who had 14 points. "Whoever was out there was running the ball."
Arkansas, which has won 10 straight first-round games, looked perfectly comfortable against Siena's pressure defense, hitting six of its first seven 3-point shots and 10-of-18 in the first half.
Sergerio Gipson hit two 3s during a 17-1 run that put the Razorbacks up 29-8 just 8:30 into the game. Siena had four turnovers and missed seven shots during that stretch.
The Saints, the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference champions, tried to get back in the game as they went on a 13-3 run to pull within 11, but Arkansas turned up the pressure to build a 49-31 halftime lead.
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