Hogs’ Battle stuns Tigers, goes for 42

Arkansas guard Khalif Battle (0) moves the ball, Saturday, February 24, 2024 during the second half of a basketball game at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville. Visit nwaonline.com/photos for today's photo gallery...(NWA Democrat-Gazette/Charlie Kaijo)
Arkansas guard Khalif Battle (0) moves the ball, Saturday, February 24, 2024 during the second half of a basketball game at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville. Visit nwaonline.com/photos for today's photo gallery...(NWA Democrat-Gazette/Charlie Kaijo)


FAYETTEVILLE -- Khalif Battle fired his way into the University of Arkansas record books with a sublime shooting clinic that powered the Razorbacks to an 88-73 win over Missouri on Saturday afternoon.

Battle scored a career-high 42 points on only 15 shots as the Razorbacks (14-13, 5-9 SEC) swept the season series against the Tigers before a boisterous crowd at Walton Arena.

Battle's eruption, the fourth-highest point total for a Division I player this season, included a 14-of-14 performance from the free-throw line and 6 of 10 shooting from three-point range.

"There's nothing better than being on the big stage and doing it," said Battle, who compared the scoring spree to when he was "killing it all the time" in high school at Trenton Catholic in New Jersey.

The 6-5 guard notched the highest total for a Razorback in an SEC game since Todd Day scored 43 points in a 106-92 win at LSU on March 3, 1992. His 14 free throws without a miss tied the school single-game record.

"I was close to getting the [school] SEC record," Battle said. "Kind of mad about that. I should have drawn one more foul or something, but regardless I'm still in the history books and that feels amazing. I got to do that in front of the Hog fans. These are the best fans in the world and even better we got a win, so it feels good."


Battle's explosion included a four-minute stretch midway through the second half in which he scored all 15 of his team's points, capped by a four-point play, as the Razorbacks took control.

"I think the game got away from us on a hot hand from Battle, who made some tough shots," Missouri Coach Dennis Gates said.

"That's about as great an offensive performance as a player could have," Arkansas Coach Eric Musselman said. "Because when you look at the efficiency of only 15 field goals and to get 42 points, I mean that's insane."

Don't look now, but Arkansas has won back-to-back games for the first time since late December after reeling off the back end of consecutive sweeps of Texas A&M and Missouri (8-19, 0-14 SEC).

"I think we're playing ... and it's not 'I think' it's a fact, we're playing our best basketball of the year right now," Musselman said.

The Tigers broke their school record for consecutive losses, which had been 13 on two different occasions.

And yet, Missouri stayed in the battle, leading for much of the first half and surging back from a 36-34 halftime deficit to seize a 44-41 lead with a 10-0 run.

"We thought we should have won the game," Missouri assistant coach Charlton Young said on the Mizzou Radio Network. "I thought our kids really tried to execute the game plan. It's been a long time since I saw one guy get hot and go for 42.

"We were trying to build a wall and keep them out of our paint and force them to beat us at the three-point line. They hadn't shot the ball very well this season, but they have one guy that stepped up and saved the day."


Battle's work offset a huge performance from Missouri guard Sean East. In his second game back from a two-game layoff for injury, East scored 33 points on 9-of-14 shooting from the field and a 15-of-16 day at the free-throw line.

After Arkansas scored 56 points in the paint during its 91-84 win at Missouri on Jan. 31, the Tigers were determined not to be bludgeoned inside. They succeeded on that point, with the Hogs holding a mere 26-24 edge on points in the paint.

But Battle's hot hand sank them.

The score was tied 50-50 after former Razorback Conner Vanover's putback dunk on Tamar Bates' three-point miss. The next three Arkansas possessions resulted in a Battle three-point play then a pair of three-pointers for a 59-52 advantage. After Bates sank a pair of free throws for the Tigers, Battle drove hard, drew a foul and made a pair of his own, then he swished a three-point try while being fouled by Bates. He converted the four-point play for a 65-54 lead and the Hogs were off and running.

Arkansas forward Makhi Mitchell added 13 points, including 5 of 6 free throws, and had 6 rebounds. Guard Davonte Davis, forced into playing the power forward spot, had a game high 9 rebounds to go along with 8 points and 6 assists, several of them to the streaking Battle.

"It was amazing," Davis said. "I was able to watch it, get a few assists from him, making the shots that he was making. So, it was a good performance from him."

Tramon Mark had 10 points and seven rebounds for the Razorbacks.

Missouri guard Nick Honor went 4 of 10 from three-point range and finished with 14 points.


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