Cuonzo Martin: Porter Jr. will play for Mizzou in SEC Tourney opener

Michael Porter Jr. and teammates

Ranked as the No. 2 recruit in the 2017 class by 247Sports, Porter played just two minutes in Missouri's season opener against Iowa State.

Porter underwent on his back shortly thereafter, and was expected to miss the remainder of the season.

At the end of Feburary, Porter Jr., was cleared for basketball activities.

"I think we'll be fine because they got a chance to play with him", said Missouri coach Cuonzo Martin.

Porter's second half was similar to his first half, although he hit a clutch triple with just under a minute to play to bring Mizzou within one point of Georgia.

When Porter Jr. entered the game, it was scoreless.

With the crowd behind them, the Tigers roared back one final time, and had the ball down one with time winding down. He left several of his three-point shots short, including one that missed the rim entirely.

Numerous statistics between the teams were relatively even.

Collin Sexton hits buzzer-beater that could push 'Bama into tourney
The Crimson Tide are sitting on the bubble, and Sports Illustrated's Michael Beller has them in the " Next Four Out ". The other is Alabama point guard Collin Sexton , a potential star who is as dynamic of a college guard as you'll see.

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

That's the key for Missouri and Michael Porter Jr. before the NCAA Tournament. "What we tried to do more than anything was have a few things where Mike could play out of that".

The Tigers had survived Porter's injury and absence, come together because of it, and were a likely NCAA tournament team because of how they responded. North Carolina A&T is at 19-13 after going 3-29 last season, while UC Santa Barbara is 22-8 after a 6-22 mark in 2016-17.

TURNING POINT: Missouri tied the game at 39 with 14:11 to go on Robertson's lone 3-pointer of the afternoon.

If Missouri gets this far, the breadth of potential opponents is too great and the odds of each matchup too low, so we won't bother you with any speculation.

Only Jontay Porter, who made 4 three-pointers to help him score a team-high 20 points, provided much offense for Mizzou, which went into halftime down 33-24. "And I'd be surprised if he plays 30 minutes of the game". Both teams agreed to not press or play zone.

Missouri will wait until Sunday to figure out where it will go next. Porter, anyway, has time to rest and sharpen his game before the next time - potentially the final time, considering he could leave school to enter the National Basketball Association draft after Missouri's season ends - he suits up for the Tigers.

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