"We used that to our advantage".
In Missouri's first round game against Florida State, many would see Michael Porter Jr.'s statline of 16 points, 10 rebounds, and 3 steals and stop there, having already decided that those numbers are worthy of a top National Basketball Association prospect. Even with new players and a new coach in Cuonzo Martin, the Tigers head home from their first NCAA appearance since 2013 with the program's fourth straight loss in a first round.
Sunday, we get games like UMBC (!) vs. Kansas State, North Carolina vs. Texas A&M and Syracuse vs. Michigan State, among others. The Cavaliers weren't just the first No. 1 seed ever beaten by a No. 16 seed, but they were dominated from start to finish.
It didn't matter that Kassius Robertson's final performance in a Mizzou-emblazoned uniform almost brought Missouri back from a 22-point deficit.
His father, Missouri assistant coach Michael Porter Sr., told ESPN that he didn't want his son to make a decision on his future during such an emotional time.
Forrest led the way with a near triple-double, finishing with eight points, six rebounds and eight assists.
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After the game, cheering from the Seminoles' locker room echoed down the hall toward Missouri's, and inside the Tigers' locker room, players quietly sat and answered questions about the game and the season and what it all meant. (Florida State's lead) ballooned back up to 15. That wound up as part of a 20-4 spurt capped by a 3-pointer from Braian Angola midway through the half.
The result was an improbable 42-20 lead at halftime. Even with another week of practice since the Southeastern Conference Tournament, he looked rusty. Porter Jr. followed with a foul of his own on a 3-point shot that saved the Seminoles with the shot clock winding down.
Missouri, the West region's No.8 seed, showed flashes of promise during Fridays' game, but the Tigers were never able to match the region's No. 9 seed Florida State. Cofer hit two of the three, and starting at that moment, it all unraveled for Missouri again. If Michael Porter Jr. can get it going, there's no reason why the Tigers can't pull off that upset.
"We went through a few possessions where they scored like, bang, bang, bang, and it was right back to 13", Jontay Porter said. "The best thing we have to do is keep our composure and just keep doing us".
Florida State: The Seminoles came in having lost three of four.
Missouri played without second-leading scorer Jordan Barnett, who was suspended for the game after a DUI arrest last weekend, and dressed just seven scholarship players.
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IT WAS OVER WHEN: PJ Savoy knocked down a 3-pointer with 8:32 to go, stretching Florida State's lead to 13 and knocking the final bit of life out of the Tigers.
It certainly would be understandable if he left early for the draft, he's projected as a top National Basketball Association prospect, Porter's circumstances are a bit unique.
Left unsaid but implied was some frustration with how games in the SEC can be officiated. They got the deficit down to six before FSU took the game back over for good.
"We're just trying to go in, get a win and get to the Sweet 16".
"I'm just hurting for the team", he said.
"That's just what it is, when you're coming off of injuries, getting the rust off your body, getting the flow of games, getting the flow of situations", Martin said.
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