Arkansas senior guard Khalif Battle earns SEC Player of the Week honors

By Kevin McPherson
on 2024-02-26 13:23 PM

By Kevin McPherson

LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas senior guard Khalif Battle posted the SEC’s highest single-game scoring mark of the 2023-24 season on Saturday with his 42-point explosion in an 88-73 home win over Missouri, and on Monday he was recognized as the league’s Player of the Week.

Battle also scored 15 points in the Razorbacks’ hard-fought 78-71 road win over Texas A&M as Arkansas went 2-0 in the SEC last week, bringing Batle’s scoring average to 28.5 points in the two victories.

Battle’s 42-piece (11-of-15 field goals, including 10-of-16 from 3, and 14-of-14 free throws) against Mizzou stands as the second-most points scored by a Razorback in an SEC game (Hogs icon Todd Day poured in 43 points in a road win over Shaquille O’Neal-led LSU during Arkansas’ inaugural season in the SEC in 1991-92). Battle’s points production comes in seventh place all-time for most points in any single game for a Hog.

As state above it also serves as the high-water mark for points scored in a single game in the SEC in ’23-24, surpassing Texas A&M guard Wade Taylor IV’s 41 points scored inside BWA in the Hogs’ 78-77 win over the Aggies in January. Battle also chipped in 6 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, and no turnovers in his 38 minutes as a starter in the win over Mizzou. It was his third consecutive game of scoring in double figures, and it marked his first league game of scoring at least 20 points after having five such outings during non-conference play in November and December.

The Hogs led by as many as eight points in the first half before settling on a two-point advantage, 36-34, at the break, and they built their lead to seven points early in the second half before a 12-2 Missouri run put the Tigers ahead, 46-43, with 13:50 to play in the game. That’s when Battle — he had scored 21 points to that point in the game — went off for 21 more points in the final 13:16 as Arkansas not only regained the lead but expanded it to the final winning margin of 15 points, which provided the Razorbacks’ lone double-digit margin of victory through 14 games of league play.

“It still hasn’t really sunk in that I had the amount of points that I had,” Battle said during the post-game press conference. “It’s a great feeling, but it’s even better that we got the win. If I would’ve had 40 and we would have lost, no one would have even remembered that.”

Fifth-year Arkansas head coach Eric Musselman was dazzled by Battle’s performance.

“That’s about as great an offensive performance as a player could have,” Musselman said. “Because when you look at the efficiency of only 15 field goals and to get 42 points, I mean that’s insane. He’s done a great job all year of drawing free throws and he went 14 of 14 from the foul line. The six defensive rebounds, that’s probably as good a night as he’s had from a defensive rebounding standpoint.

“The theme coming into the game was we had to get a shot on goal. We couldn’t have live-ball turnovers and he did a great job. He played 37 minutes and 34 seconds and didn’t have a turnover while scoring 42 points. Kind of unheard of to be honest.”

On the season, Battle is averaging 11.8 points, 2.6 rebounds, and 1.2 assists in 21.5 minutes per game.

(Last updated: 2024-02-26 13:23 PM)