'I really expected it': Mitchell's big night proves Council right

By: Scottie Bordelon Scottie Bordelon's Twitter account
Published: Monday, November 28, 2022
Arkansas forward Makhi Mitchell dunks during a game against Troy on Monday, Nov. 28, 2022, in Fayetteville.
( Charlie Kaijo)
Arkansas forward Makhi Mitchell dunks during a game against Troy on Monday, Nov. 28, 2022, in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE — Ricky Council just had a gut feeling.

As he made his way to Bud Walton Arena on Monday for No. 11 Arkansas’ game against Troy, the Wichita State transfer had a reoccurring thought that Razorbacks forward Makhi Mitchell was going to put together a big performance.

Following the 74-61 victory, the only thing Council had to be irritated about was the fact he kept the hunch to himself. Mitchell, Arkansas’ 6-9 starting forward, recorded the best game of his short time as a Razorback.

He finished with 14 points, 9 rebounds and 3 blocks in a season-high 29 minutes.

“Like, I really called it,” Council said. “I wish I would’ve texted it, posted it or something so y’all could be like, ‘Oh.’ But no, I really expected it.

“I’m really happy that he actually showed it. It was a really big night for him. I was proud of him.”

Mitchell was the Razorbacks’ primary source of offense prior to halftime against the Trojans. He had a team-high 10 points and 9 rebounds at the break as Arkansas trailed 33-31.

More from WholeHogSports: Razorbacks beat Troy after late 17-0 run

Of his nine rebounds, four came off his teammates' misses. And they each led to a bucket for him.

He first grabbed his own miss and added a layup for Arkansas’ first points of the game. Less than two minutes later, he corralled a missed right-corner three-pointer by Trevon Brazile and scored. 

And twice in the final five minutes he rebounded a missed shot by Jordan Walsh and contributed a putback. He accounted for all eight of the Razorbacks’ second-chance points before halftime.

“It just kind of came to me,” Mitchell said when asked if he felt the need to take on more of a scoring load. “I was in the right spot at the right time. Coach has been emphasizing that he needs more out of the bigs as far as blocking shots and everything on the defensive end.

“I just did my job tonight.”

Mitchell, to open the second half, knocked down a pair of free throws and later made a layup to reach 14 points. He did not take another shot, but he did block two of his three shots with the game still relatively close.

The 14 points are his most in a game since a 14-point outing against St. Bonaventure in February while playing at Rhode Island. Mitchell also had nine rebounds and three blocks in that outing.

The four offensive rebounds also matched a career high. The three rejections were his most since recording six against Saint Louis in March.

More from WholeHogSports: Musselman, Council, Mitchell discuss 74-61 win over Troy

“I thought his offensive rebounding … When we run pick-and-roll with Makhel (Mitchell), Makhi and Kamani (Johnson), we always talk about being a dynamic roller, and I thought he rolled really hard to the rim,” Arkansas coach Eric Musselman said. “Even on (rolls) that he didn't get the ball, you mentioned the offensive rebounds in the first half, they were coming off his rolls and he was just kind of hanging out in the dunker spot.

“He plays really hard. He practices really hard.”

According to KenPom analytics, Makhi Mitchell has an offensive rebound rate of 11.6%, a defensive rebound percentage of 17.9% and a block rate of 5.4%. He is top 15 among SEC players in each category, per the site.

With a smile on his face, Makhi Mitchell said he wished he had finished with his first double-double as a Razorback and first since Feb. 19. He added that he learned at the Maui Invitational to simply be effective and impactful in ways he knows how.

He averaged 3 points and 3.3 rebounds in Hawaii.

“Throughout the whole second half there was like two to three people on me, so it made it a little harder,” Mitchell said of the elusive 10th rebound. “Just being in the right spots, you know, long rebounds, long shots, just being in the paint (helps).

“(I just want to be) an all-around player — defending out on the perimeter, switching out, blocking shots and just letting the rest come to me.”


Have a comment on this story? Join the discussion or start a new one on the Forums.