Mark Mitchell persevering through criticism that comes with playing Duke basketball

Mark Mitchell continues to battle through heavy criticism during his sophomore season for the Duke basketball team.
Syracuse v Duke
Syracuse v Duke / Lance King/GettyImages

Mark Mitchell's career night came at the perfect time for the Duke basketball program and the sophomore.

Mitchell has been at the center of a lot of criticism through the first half of the season as he has significantly regressed with his 3-point shot, making just 4.5-percent of his attempts compared to 35.2-percent last season.

Teams have defended him much different considering his struggles with his jumpshot but he's still finding ways to be productive for the Blue Devils.

The Kansas native kept Duke afloat in the first half against Syracuse with 18 points as the rest of the team battled foul trouble before the team would make all eight of its 3-point attempts in the second half.

"I thought the job that Mark [Mitchell] did in that first half, and it's not just the scoring, it's him, I'm proud of him for just trusting the process and doubling down on his work," Jon Scheyer said after the 86-66 victory.

"It's not easy playing here. There's a lot of criticism and all that. But I think Mark has really stayed the course."

Mitchell even has public criticism from his own father after he tweeted on December 31, "We as a family do not support what we’re seeing from Mark at Duke. How do you show up at a university and lose your identity? Both Mark and Duke need to work it out. Disturbing."

The former McDonald's All-American has seen an increase in most statistical categories since last season, with the exception of 3-point shooting.

Mark Mitchell is averaging 12.0 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 1.4 assists per game on 48.5-percent shooting from the field.

Duke is 23-2 in games when he scores at least 10 points during his career.

"Mark Mitchell is a winner," Scheyer stated. "That dude is a winner, competitor, connector and I thought he was himself tonight and it really showed with Jeremy [Roach] being out and [Kyle Filipowski] being out in that first half and we're winning by two at halftime."

Mitchell and No. 14 Duke (10-3, 1-1 ACC) will return to the court on Saturday night (6:00 p.m. ET, ACC Network) in South Bend against Notre Dame (6-8, 1-2 ACC).

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