Shorthanded Mizzou falls to Florida State in NCAA Tournament
NASHVILLE - A tumultuous season for Missouri Basketball came to an end Friday night in the first round of the NCAA Tournament as the shorthanded Tigers couldn't keep up with Florida State, losing 67-54.
Eighth-seeded Mizzou got off to a disastrous start, shooting just 21% in the first half and trailed the Seminoles by 22 at the break. Head Coach Cuonzo Martin said the team struggled to adjust in the absence of senior forward Jordan Barnett, who was suspended following a DWI arrest last week.
"We had three big guys on the perimeter and we haven't played that way all year," Martin said. "When you got a big guy whose not used to playing on the perimeter, that's not easy."
Martin inserted Jontay Porter into the starting lineup in Barnett's absence, moving senior Kevin Puryear to the small forward position. The younger Porter brother struggled all night, shooting just 1-7 and finishing with two points.
Martin also gave more minutes to Michael Porter Jr., who said this week he was at about "70 percent". Porter Jr. struggled in his second game since returning from injury, shooting 4-12 for 16 points in 28 minutes.
"I was second guessing myself and it was really frustrating," Porter Jr. said. "I'm not myself yet. My conditioning isn't there yet but it's the NCAA Tournament and you have to give your team everything you have."
A 10-1 run to start the second half put Missouri within 13, though, as Kassius Robertson connected on a trio of three pointers to get the Tigers' offense going.
Mizzou would close the gap to as little as six points with just under ten minutes remaining, but Florida State responded with a 15-0 run to put the game away.
"We got to six and we were right there," Porter Jr. said. "But we got tired and they hit a couple big time shots to get it back to double digits. They played a great game."
Porter Jr. said he has not made a decision about whether to enter the NBA Draft, but said coming back for his sophomore year is "definitely not out of the question". He said he will make the decision in the next few weeks as he talks with "the people close to him".
Martin said he will tell both Porters to do what is best for them and their family. He said if Porter Jr. projects to be a top pick, it would be really hard for him to turn that down and he wouldn't want or expect him to do that.
With the loss, Missouri ends the season 20-13.