10 March, 2018
The men's basketball team, formidable beyond all expectations after it lost a certain 6-foot-10-inch freshman two minutes into this season, has seemingly caught its stride at the right time. He has not played since Missouri's November 10 season-opener against Iowa State, a game in which he played just two minutes.
But Porter has been ahead of schedule in his recovery and has now been practicing with the team for a week.
"I feel really good (about Texas A&M's NCAA Tournament chances)", Aggies coach Billy Kennedy said. "I didn't want to go to a Kansas or Kentucky where I could be just another great player".
A few minutes before, when three Missouri players took the podium, it did not sound like they knew Porter was planning to play.
"If he's healthy enough to roll, he's playing", Martin said.
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"Maybe a step slow", Martin would say, evaluating a program-altering player who has now played 25 total minutes for that program.
On Thursday, Mizzou will either play Georgia or Vanderbilt, depending on the result of the first-round game. "I'm glad we got it out of the way". As a whole, Missouri was called for - and whether or not they actually committed them is up to interpretation - 14 fouls in the first 20 minutes. But here's a stat that shows how poorly the Tigers played on iffense - they had six assists.
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Mizzou came into Thursday as a No. 8 seed in ESPN's bracketology, and they likely had their NCAA Tournament berth locked in despite the loss.
The Tigers battled back, capping a 15-2 second-half run when Robertson hit his first three-pointer of the day to tie the score 39-39. NBA Draft analysts still project Porter to be a lottery selection. He was part of a talented signing class in Martin's first year, one that included Porter's younger brother, Jontay, and has helped the Tigers improve from only nine wins a year ago.
Whether or not Porter Jr. steps onto the court in a Missouri Tiger uniform, March Madness seems sure to excite for the rest of them.