Cuonzo Martin: Michael Porter returning to lineup in SEC Tourney

Cuonzo Martin: Michael Porter returning to lineup in SEC Tourney

He suffered an injury in his first career game in the season opener for Mizzou.

Missouri coach Cuonzo Martin described the difference in Porter's game as such: "He's a step slow". It's another reason that winning this week, at the very least on Thursday, is so crucial; if Porter given the green light, Martin will want to get him as much in-game playing experience as possible before the Big Dance. Should they drop, considering their performance in St. Louis, and if so how unlucky would some future No. 3 seed feel if a 10-seeded Missouri - featuring a McDonald's all-American in the lineup with nearly no game footage to scout - to potentially prepare for in the second round? And to say foul trouble crept into the game early doesn't adequately emphasize the overwhelming onslaught of calls that went against the Tigers-the zebras were using their whistles more than the lifeguards at a public pool. "For me it was always Mike's decision to play or not play", Martin said.

"If he's healthy, we're rolling", Martin added.

CAUSE FOR OPTIMISM: Missouri lost its first game of the SEC Tournament, and it is still a lock for the NCAA Tournament.

Success in the SEC Tournament may or may not be enough to reach another, smaller goal: getting off the 8-9 seeding line. Georgia proceeded to score 19 of the next 21 points, however, taking a commanding lead of their own; Mizzou would never lead again.

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Mizzou (20-11) is the third-most improved team in the country, record-wise. Scouts have already had plenty of opportunities to study Porter prior to his arrival at Missouri, including at USA Basketball, Adidas Nations, the McDonald's All-American Game and Nike Hoop Summit.

Sources told ESPN multiple National Basketball Association executives believe Porter should make an attempt to play in the SEC or NCAA tournaments.

But in the NCAA tournament (assuming Missouri secures an at-large berth, which seems likely), Porter could have some questions to answer, from his shot selection and effectiveness inside to his ability to chase wings around on defense.

Porter's return will make Missouri a unsafe team in the NCAA Tournament.

Playing big opened up the game a bit for his brother Jontay, who finished with 20 points and eight boards. The Missouri player is set to re-debut ahead of March Madness, so get the lowdown on this star recruit. The forward is a former No. 1 recruit who entered the season as a contender for the top pick in the 2018 NBA Draft.

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