NCAA Tournament: FSU opens as small underdog against Xavier


The Tigers pulled within 52-44 on a pair of free throws by Porter as Missouri opened the second half by outscoring Florida State 24-8.

Mizzou's 54 points are the second lowest it has scored the entire season. Two victories at Stanford would move the Tigers to Lexington, Ky., where they could face No. 1 seed Louisville in the Sweet 16.

Missouri played without second-leading scorer Jordan Barnett, who was suspended for the game after a DUI arrest last weekend, and dressed just seven scholarship players.

On the next trip down the floor, though, Porter overran his closeout on a 3-pointer by Phil Cofer, knocking him to the ground and giving him three shots at the line. On defense, the Tigers had allowed 12 fast break points and watched as the Seminoles shot 53 percent from the field and 5-for-8 from 3.

The younger Porter said he was proud of everything MU accomplished, all the resilience the team showed after losing one of the country's top players two minutes into the season. We didn't handle it very well. "We have to be better at whom we are than the team we're playing against". Nicole Ekhomo and Chatrice White each finished with 13 points. Mfiondu Kabengele led a well-balanced Florida attack with 14 points and 12 rebounds.

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I believe that the sloppy and hesitant play of Porter Jr. stems from the second reason he should not enter the National Basketball Association; he needs to learn to trust his body again.

"We're not an offensive team", Tilmon said.

Gassed though he may have been, Porter Jr. did finish with a double-double (16 points, 10 rebounds) Friday.

CAUSE FOR OPTIMISM: Michael Porter Jr. and Jontay Porter didn't immediately announce they were entering the draft after the game. With the loss, Missouri's season ends with a 20-13 record.

The problems that had plagued Missouri all season long - the turnovers, the minutes-long stretches without scoring, the foul trouble - ultimately did the Tigers in one final time.

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Then Kassius Robertson hit a 3-pointer.

But FSU remained poised to reach the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the second consecutive year.

Missouri also has Chicago point guard Xavier Pinson committed to the program and he is expected to sign in the April late-signing period. "I'll just talk to the people close to me", Porter said. They got the deficit down to six before FSU took the game back over for good. 'Can I get past this guy?' Normally, you know you can so you might try to, but you're thinking too much, and basketball is a game that when you're free, you're at your best.

By the time Saturday's game tips off, 15 days will have passed since Mizzou's last game in the SEC Tournament, giving the Tigers plenty of time to sharpen their clunky offense. Tilmon, Puryear and a solid recruiting class that could include four-star point guard Courtney Ramey will be a tough out, but they might not be ready for another NCAA Tournament run. Just being here obviously is a pleasure and making it to the tournament is a huge accomplishment for us.

"That decision has not been made", Michael Sr. said. "Hopefully I have to see what the doctors say to see if I'll be able to go".

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