University of South Alabama junior Trhae Mitchell set a new career high with 28 points and added eight rebounds as the Jaguars defeated city rival Mobile 86-47 Thursday night at the Mitchell Center.
Head coach Richie Riley said Mitchell has taken his game to a another step.
"He's really taking another step and I think it's obvious to everybody every single night with his confidence. When I got the job, he was a guy I watched film on. I had known him since he was young, but I had very high expectations for him because I think he has a ton of ability that's untapped," Riley said. "Now he's starting to figure things out and gain confidence through his work. He's stretched together about a month of really good practices. Every day he shows up and we know what to expect, and it wasn't like that early on. That's why he's playing well. That's why he has 28 points and eight rebounds and last night he almost had a triple-double. He's embracing his new role. He's embracing how we play and he's working his tail off to be the best player he can be. I'm excited for him and for where his game can go next."
USA took its first lead 20 seconds in and never trailed. The Jags went up 20 at halftime and ended the contest on an 18-2 run.
Mitchell shot 12 for 15 from the floor and added three blocks and assists apiece. Junior Josh Ajayi recorded his fourth double-double of the year with 16 points and 11 rebounds.
"On defense we're starting to ratchet up a little bit. We're starting to understand some rotations better. That's what those days of practice did for us. Another thing is that John Pettway is playing more minutes and he's really good in the press," said Riley. "He makes deflections. We're getting better at it. That's a stat line we'd like to have. We want to force 18 turnovers. That was great, and then we only turned it over six times. It's huge in winning games. Ball security and how we played defensively to force that many turnovers—that's who we want to be."