Mitchell puts up big numbers

Mitchell+puts+up+big+numbers

Laura Owens

One of the defining moments in Tony Mitchell’s basketball career came before college, before high school, even before he was six feet tall.

From PE to the SEC, Mitchell has been dunking a long time.

“It was in PE playing around,” Mitchell said. “We were just playing five on five, and it came out of the rim, and I jumped and touched it, put it back in and touched the rim. At that time, I was like 5’8”. I wasn’t as tall as everyone else. I was the smallest in my grade.”

The sophomore out of Swainsboro, Ga., has scored 20 points or more in four straight games. For those four games, his scoring average is 22.3 points per game.

For the whole season, he’s averaged 15.8 points per game. In the Southeastern Conference games, he’s elevated his play and has averaged 17.4 points per game.

“My teammates are able to find me in good spots more as I get out,” Mitchell said. “I just try to help my team as much as possible, being open in transition and shots getting tipped in.”

In his freshman year with the Crimson Tide last season, he averaged 9.2 points per game. He said last year he was trying to figure out how playing in college worked. Head coach Anthony Grant said Mitchell has gotten more comfortable every game with what he can do to impact the game.

“I think Tony got great experience last year as a freshman,” he said. “We have to remember he was one of the league’s top freshmen last year in a league that was somewhat dominated by freshmen.”

But now with the year of experience under his belt, Mitchell has more confidence to play to a higher standard.

“Now I know what it takes to get wins and play hard and score the ball for my team,” Mitchell said. “It gives me more confidence knowing that I know more about the team and that I have the ability. My athletic ability helps me a whole lot, too.”

His career-high was against Tennessee in Knoxville, Tenn., earlier this month when he scored 24 points. He went into the overtime period with 22 points, and with two free throws in overtime, he outscored his previous game-high of 23 that he had set the game before.

Grant said Mitchell has been an asset to this team not only in scoring but also in rebounds.

“There’s a lot of talk with the scoring he’s had for the last four games, but I think that he’s rebounded the ball consistently for us,” he said. “There’s been times over the course of the year that he’s led us in several other occasions, so I think he’s having a very good sophomore season.”

Junior JaMychal Green said one of Mitchell’s biggest improvements from his freshman to sophomore has been his jump shot.

“He’s knocking down a lot of jumpers this year,” he said. “They help us. They open up the lane for me. They give him a chance to penetrate.”

After a win this past Saturday against Ole Miss, the Tide will take on the LSU Tigers tonight in Baton Rouge, La. The game will be televised on ESPN with tipoff at 8 p.m.