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Mizzou falls to Georgia in Michael Porter Jr.’s return

The ‘Dawgs will march on to face Kentucky in the Quarterfinals.

NCAA Basketball: SEC Conference Tournament-Missouri vs Georgia Billy Hurst-USA TODAY Sports

Yante Maten and the Georgia Bulldogs live to fight another day. The ‘Dawgs defeated the 5th-seeded Missouri Tigers in a second round matchup on Thursday in the SEC Tournament. The victory advances UGA to the SEC Tourney Quarterfinals for the second straight year and, funnily enough, pits them against the Kentucky Wildcats again.

Much of the attention going into Thursday afternoon’s showdown in St. Louis surrounded Michael Porter Jr. The much-ballyhooed freshman was cleared to make his return to the court for the first time since the season opener against the Iowa State Cyclones. But, UGA took the headlines away and now Mizzou will have to take the quick jaunt back across I-70 to Columbia for a little while. They’re pretty much assured to make the NCAA Tournament, but their time in St. Louis was quite short lived.

The aforementioned Maten was the star yet again. Maten scored a game-high 21 points and pulled down 10 boards for yet another double-double, his second in as many games in this SEC Tournament. He was a bit inefficient, as he shot 6-of-15 from the field, but was 7-of-10 from the free throw line. He also committed just one turnover in 38 minutes of action. He’s had a terrific career in Athens, and it’s guaranteed to continue for at least another day.

Joining Yante Maten in double figures was Teshaun Hightower. Sure enough, Hightower and Maten got into double figures on Wednesday night, so the same deal occurred on Thursday. Hightower scored 13 points while shooting 5-of-9 from the field, and had seven rebounds as well in 22 minutes. Three players — William Jackson II, Tyree Crump and Nicolas Claxton — scored seven points apiece.

On Mizzou’s side, a Porter led the way in the scoring department. However, it wasn’t Michael, but instead Jontay. Jontay Porter put up 20 points, falling just a point shy of his contemporary Maten’s 21. He did so efficiently, needing only eight shots from the field to do so. He shot 4-of-6 from the 3-point line and was also 6-of-8 from the free throw line. MPJ, meanwhile, was a bit rusty in his first action in a few months. Porter Jr. scored 12 points, the second-highest mark on the team. But, he also took 17 shots and made only five of them. He didn’t get to the free throw line at all, either. He did contribute in other areas, as he pulled eight boards down, had an assist and also committed no turnovers in 23 minutes.

Mizzou’s woes mostly came from the backcourt. Kassius Robertson and Jordan Barnett scored a combined 10 points, and Robertson had seven of them. The usually deft-shooting Canadian in Kassius was just 3-of-10 from the field and 1-of-4 from 3-point land. Barnett, meanwhile, was 1-of-8 from the field and 1-of-6 from the 3-point line. Jordan Geist was also inefficient, as Geist had six points on seven shots, and only made two of those from the field.

It’s a tough pill to swallow for Mizzou, but the good news is that their season isn’t over, like how things have gone the last three years (although they were also banned from the postseason in 2016, so, really...). Georgia, meanwhile, plays on and could very well keep the dream alive if they were able to knock off Kentucky on Friday.