Razorback basketball report: Mitchell celebrates birthday with double-double at Mizzou

Arkansas' Makhi Mitchell (15) heads to the basket as Missouri's Connor Vanover (75) and Noah Carter (35) defend during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2024, in Columbia, Mo. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

For the second year in a row, University of Arkansas forward Makhi Mitchell celebrated his birthday with a big night and a win as the Razorbacks took down Missouri 91-84 on Wednesday night at Mizzou Arena in Columbia, Mo.

Mitchell, who turned 24 on Wednesday, recorded his second consecutive double-double with 19 points on 8-of-13 shooting and 14 rebounds as the Tigers struggled to contain the 6-10, 240-pounder.

Mitchell told SEC Network that he couldn’t sleep due to excitement and woke up at 7 a.m. to text his twin brother Makhel and other family members

“I know it’s been a rough start for SEC play but Coach [Eric Musselman] keeps us motivated and he still believes in us,” Mitchell said.

Asked what his message to the fans would be, Mitchell replied, “It’s not over yet, man. We’re going to continue to fight and play our hearts out for the fans, for Bud [Walton Arena], for everybody. Just don’t give up on us.”

Mitchell’s production tied his career scoring high and surpassed his season high of 13 rebounds. Mitchell had the 13 boards against No. 6 Kentucky last Saturday when he also had 12 points.

Mitchell has three double-doubles this season and 13 in his career.

The native of Washington, D.C., became the first Razorback to post a double-double on his birthday since Charles Thomas had 12 points and 12 rebounds on his 20th birthday in a 68-52 win at Auburn on Jan. 21, 2006, according to HogStats.com.

Mitchell entered the game with 3 dunks and he posted 5 against the Tigers, helping his 66.7% shooting.

Mitchell was denied two points on a high-caliber put-back of a missed Tramon Mark shot with a little more than five minutes left in the game when teammate Layden Blocker grabbed the right side of the rim as Mitchell’s tip went through the basket.

Last year on Jan. 31, Mitchell had 6 points on 3-of-5 shooting, 5 rebounds and 3 blocked shots in the Razorbacks’ 81-70 win over Texas A&M at Walton Arena in Fayetteville. Makhi’s brother Makhel, who is now at Arkansas-Little Rock, had an even bigger game with 9 points, 13 rebounds and 7 blocked shots against the Aggies.

Specialty stats

Arkansas scored a season-high 56 points in the lane to clobber Missouri 56-30 in that department.

The Razorbacks also beat the Tigers 35-26 in rebounding, 35-28 in bench points, 25-15 in points off turnovers and 19-16 in fast-break points.

The teams were tied 17-17 in second-chance points.

Dealing dunks

The Razorbacks got all the way to the rim repeatedly with 5 dunks by 4 players to take a 47-28 lead in the first half, led by 2 from Makhi Mitchell

The dunk-a-thon started when Keyon Menifield got penetration through the lane and found Mitchell on the left block for a throw down at the 12:02 mark.

A couple of minutes later, Tramon Mark stole a pass from Curt Lewis and pulled off a spin move just above the state of Missouri outline at midcourt to get around Tamar Bates then charged down for a dunk.

Mitchell corralled a missed layup by Menifield and with multiple defenders chasing the guard as his shot took him out of bounds, Mitchell had an uncontested opening for a flush.

Mark found Chandler Lawson on the right block for a dunk and a 31-19 Arkansas lead at 6:25.

Jalen Graham grabbed a Missouri miss late in the half and got it to Layden Blocker streaking down the floor. Blocker flew in for a slam ahead of a swipe by Aidan Shaw to give the Hogs a 41-26 edge at 2:18.

Lawson added a dunk early in the second half on a feed from Blocker.

Late moves

Arkansas benefited from hustle by freshman guard Layden Blocker to snare two points with 0.2 seconds on the first half clock.

Makhi Mitchell missed a fallaway 14-footer, but Blocker beat Sean East to the carom and was headed back up when he was ranked on the arm by Jordan Butler as the horn sounded. Officials K.B. Burdett and Olandis Poole checked the replay and awarded Blocker two free throws. Blocker rattled both in to provide Arkansas a 47-28 lead at intermission, tying its largest lead of the half.

In the second half, Missouri closed a 16-point deficit in the final 1:31 by outscoring the Hogs 16-7.

Trophy day

Coach Eli Drinkwitz and members of the Missouri football team were in attendance at Mizzou Arena and shown on the SEC Network telecast during the first half. The Tigers were introduced with the Battle Line Trophy in the first half, earned with a 48-14 victory over the Razorbacks in Fayetteville on the day after Thanksgiving.

Bates great

Missouri guard Tamar Bates is having a tremendous season from the free-throw line and he added to that against the Hogs as he scored a game-high 29 points.

Bates, a transfer from Indiana, made 10 of 10 free throws, converting 4 three-point place along the way. The 6-5 junior entered the night 48 of 51 (94.1%) at the free-throw line.

Vanover stretch

Missouri’s 7-5 Connor Vanover, a former Razorback, had a hot stretch on his first stint off the bench, contributing five points in a short period of time with a three-pointer and a put-back dunk.

The Little Rock product finished with 7 points on 3-of-5 shooting and 4 rebounds in 14 minutes.

Tiger throws

Missouri made its first 16 free throws, mostly by Tamar Bates, before 7-2 left-hander Mabor Majak was off the mark on the back end of a 1-and-1 with 7:26 remaining.

The Tigers finished 20 of 22 (90.9%) at the free-throw line, while Arkansas went 21 of 26 (80.8%).

Who’s the point?

Arkansas went with true freshman guard Layden Blocker at point guard in his third start after struggling with turnovers at the position late in Saturday’s 63-57 loss to Kentucky.

Blocker contributed 9 points on 2-of-2 shooting and 5-of-6 free throws and had 2 assists and 3 rebounds. Keyon Menifield also worked the point and turned in 16 points on 2-of-3 three-point shooting and 6-of-6 free throws and also had 3 assists and 2 rebounds.

Hogs personnel

The Razorbacks played again without guard Davonte Davis and forward Trevon Brazile for the second consecutive game.

Davis has stepped away from the team and neither he nor the Razorbacks have attached a time table or a commitment to his return. Brazile is in a stage of knee maintenance after experiencing soreness during a loss to Ole Miss last week.

Tip-ins

• Per HogStats.com, the Razorbacks’ 19-point lead at halftime matched its largest ever in a road game in its SEC history.

• Missouri went the entire month of January without a win.

• Arkansas guard Khalif Battle went out with an apparent right ankle issue with 16:33 left in the second half after a collision with Missouri big man Mabor Majak.

• Missouri 7-2 senior Mabor Majak scored his first point of the season on a free throw at the 7:26 mark of the second half.

• Missouri’s 28 points represented its second-lowest first half total of the season.