Published: Sat, March 10, 2018
Medical | By Bryan Strickland

Don't judge Michael Porter Jr. too harshly off his return to Missouri

Don't judge Michael Porter Jr. too harshly off his return to Missouri

It was his first time taking the floor since the season opener when he scored just two points before he suffered a back injury that has kept him sidelined for the majority of the season.

Nearly as soon as the school announced Porter Jr. was having season-ending back surgery fans and a portion of the college basketball world began doing the math on his potential return.

With or without Michael Porter Jr., Missouri has to get more from its senior leader if it's going to make any noise in the NCAA Tournament next week. Martin told reporters throughout the season it was Porter's call when he felt ready to return to the court.

"In that kid's defense, it's hard to play your first couple of college games", said Georgia coach Mark Fox. Were its Final Four hopes back on track? But on the next possession, he missed a three from nearly the exact same spot, and the Tigers fouled. Porter Jr. had initially committed to the Huskies. "Unless the trainer or Mike says otherwise, he's playing".

Kassius Robertson, the leader of this Tiger offense all season, scored just 7 points.

A few minutes before, when three Missouri players took the podium, it did not sound like they knew Porter was planning to play. "We lost to them when I did".

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For now, the SEC, and the rest of the country, will get its first extended look at what Porter can do on the collegiate level - even if Martin isn't quite sure how many minutes the talented freshman will play. So we've got some things we've got to fix, but it's small things.

Porter's 24 points, seven rebounds and six assists in the win at Vanderbilt (Feb. 27) were significant, in that a Mizzou freshman had not accomplished a 20-5-5 stat line since the 1998-99 season.

Mizzou enters as the fifth-seed in the tournament, and the latest Bracketology from ESPN's Joe Lunardi has the Tigers No. 8 in the South bracket playing against Butler. NBA Draft analysts still project Porter to be a lottery selection.

Mizzou and Tennessee were the only two teams in the SEC to complete the regular season ranking in the conference's Top 5 for both three-point field goal shooting percentage (2nd, .387) and three-point field goal defense (5th, .326).

"The encouraging part for us is just that besides - I mean, (Jontay's) the only one who had a really good offensive game", Porter Jr. said.

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