There seldom seems to be a dull moment for Missouri basketball, one of the Show-Me State’s best dramas.
After a week of near hysteria over Michael Porter Jr. updates, the Tigers got hammered 87-66 at Kentucky on Saturday, their third straight defeat. Missouri (18-11, 8-8 in SEC through Sunday) tied the game at 26 with 5:47 to go in the first half, but Kentucky (20-9, 9-7 in SEC) pretty much blitzed the Tigers from that point on.
The Wildcats are a very young team, but they have a lot of length and talent, and seem to be getting things together at the right time, with March and tournament play looming.
Kentucky is a fearsome team when they’re shooting well, and the Wildcats made 10 of 16 three-point attempts and shot 54.9 percent overall.
Missouri got a brilliant game from Kassius Robertson, who scored 26 and made 6 of 11 three-pointers. But the rest of the team made just 4 of 20 from beyond the arc.
That setback in Lexington came after a ghastly overtime home loss to last-place Mississippi on Wednesday, when the Rebels were playing with an interim coach.
The possible good news during the week was Thursday’s report that Porter was cleared for basketball activities after a long layoff following back surgery last fall. He shot with the team during the pregame shootaround, but when game time rolled around he was in sweats on the bench with the other inactive players.
Porter is a tremendous talent, and he would be a boost for a Tiger team that seems to have hit a rough patch just as postseason play looms. But it’s probably fair to keep expectations for him somewhat modest if he does play, as he hasn’t played in an organized game in more than three months. And, taking a cue from the Show-Me State tradition, Tiger fans can believe he’ll play again when they see it. They really might, but it’s anyone’s guess until he actually gets in a game.
The Porter speculation shouldn’t overshadow a game effort from the Missouri players who have hung tough during an up-and-down season. Missouri’s Porter who has played, little brother Jontay, has been very good as a freshman.
The Tigers just need one more “up” run to close out the season. Missouri wraps up the regular season with a home game against Arkansas on Saturday (5 p.m. on ESPN2).
Arkansas (20-9, 9-7 in SEC) has won five of its last six heading into the week. Senior guards Jaylen Barford and Daryl Macon lead the Razorbacks in scoring.
It’s a big game for the Tigers. They still began the week in decent shape to make the NCAA Tournament, but they still probably have a little work to do. This is a game they can win, especially at home, but they need to find their form from a few weeks ago.