{{ timeAgo('2023-01-24 13:30:00 -0600') }} basketball Edit

Mitchell twins stepping up in conference play for Hoop Hogs

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After a loss in the Elite Eight to Duke that ended Arkansas' season last year, Razorback head coach Eric Musselman knew he needed to add size over the offseason. He did just that, signing four frontcourt pieces to the team from the transfer portal. Two of them are twin brothers Makhi and Makhel Mitchell.

The twins transferred to Arkansas from Rhode Island, where the duo saw themselves perform at a high enough level to be courted by high major programs in the portal. Ultimately, they decided Fayetteville was the best spot for both of them.

Makhi Mitchell has been a regular piece of the rotation from the start of the season. He's appeared in every single game and started in all but one. With the injury to Arkansas forward Trevon Brazile (ACL), Makhi has been thrust into a bigger role, and he has largely thrived in it.

Before the Brazile injury, Makhi averaged just 17.2 minutes per game, scoring 6.5 points and grabbing 4.4 rebounds. Brazile went down in the first half against UNC Greensboro, leading Mitchell to play 32 minutes and record a 13-point, 14-rebound double-double. He also added four blocks and a pair of steals.

Including the Greensboro game, Mitchell has significantly improved his statistical output with the larger role. Since Brazile's injury, he is averaging 23.5 minutes, 8.4 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game, a stat line fitting of an SEC starter at center.

Even with strong stats, the efficiency is even more impressive. Mitchell is shooting 59.4% from the field in conference play, with a true shooting percentage (TS%) of 64.1%, per KenPom. That TS% is good enough for third on the team behind Joseph Pinion (65.7%) and Mitchell's twin brother, Makhel (67.5%).

Makhi has been consistently praised for his defensive abilities by Musselman, but he also boasts the second-highest offensive rating (ORTG) on the team at 120.0. Pinion is first at 144.3. For reference, that 120.0 ranks 153rd nationally of all eligible players in college basketball, according to KenPom.

For much of the season, Makhi has been the Mitchell twin getting the most playing time and attention, but lately Makhel Mitchell has earned some minutes.

Makhel has not appeared in four of Arkansas' 19 games this season, and appeared for just one minute in three others. However, he has seen action in five conference games, and in his last three appearances he is averaging 20 minutes per game.

While Makhel's stats don't jump off the page on the season, his recent performances should be an indication that he is a viable frontcourt option for the Razorbacks. Across his last three appearances, he is averaging 5.7 points, 3.7 rebounds, 2.0 blocks, and 1.0 steals per game.

"(Makhel) played great basketball," Musselman said after Saturday's Ole Miss victory. "We started him in the second half. I thought he gave us a real defensive presence with the two blocks, as well as the two steals."

Makhel's offensive rating is right behind his brother's on the roster at 116.5, and he leads the team in block percentage (Blk%) by a wide margin at 12.3%. Unfortunately for Makhel, and for Arkansas, he might have to miss some time due to a foot injury sustained against Ole Miss.

"He’s going to get X-rayed and evaluated," Musselman said. "We’ll have to see what the medical report comes back."

The twins' mom took to twitter to say that Mitchell will be out at least a week with a foot sprain, though there has been no confirmation from the UA yet.

Arkansas will face LSU inside Bud Walton Arena on Tuesday evening for a 6 p.m. CT tip. The game will be broadcast on ESPN2.

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