Mizzou's Michael Porter Jr. To Return For SEC Tournament

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Missouri Tigers freshman forward Michael Porter Jr. returned to the floor on Saturday afternoon for his team's SEC Tournament game against the Georgia Bulldogs.

But while there were flashes of brilliance from a 6-foot-10 player who took six 3-point shots in the game, he struggled against what most consider the league's best defense.

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

When Michael Porter Jr. checked into a college basketball game for the first time since November 10th, there was no score.

After being cleared to practice nearly two weeks ago, Porter showed enough progress that he and Martin felt comfortable putting the forward into a game situation. "It's really how I feel, the flow of the game, and how he feels".

"We beat Georgia when I didn't play", the Missouri freshman said in the locker room after a 62-60 defeat.

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

"Maybe a step slow", Martin would say, evaluating a program-altering player who has now played 25 total minutes for that program.

CAUSE FOR OPTIMISM: Missouri lost its first game of the SEC Tournament, and it is still a lock for the NCAA Tournament. I'm glad he actually got it out of the way and we can move forward. "(Now we have) things we can look at in practice to put them in position to be successful". But it doesn't seem to be affecting the team, as they are the fifth seed in this week's conference tournament and will most likely reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time in five years. Both teams agreed to not press or play zone.

Even with the loss, Martin says he believes that Missouri - with its 20-12 record - should make the NCAA tournament, which begins next week. Porter Jr. finished 5 of 17 from the field with 12 points and eight rebounds. The Tigers tied the game at 39-39 on Kassius Robertson's three pointer, but they could never grab the lead.

Porter's return should ultimately spark widespread conversation among front offices prepping for a top-heavy draft. He took seven more shots than the second-most prolific shooter on his team.

CBS Sports' Jon Rothstein reported on February 22 that Porter received full clearance from doctors to resume basketball activities. St. Louis, Missouri, plays host to the 2018 edition of the event, at the Scottrade Center from March 7-11, 2018.