Michael Porter Jr. Struggles in Missouri’s Loss to FSU in 2018 NCAA Tournament

NASHVILLE, TN - MARCH 16: Mfiondu Kabengele #25 of the Florida State Seminoles reacts against the Missouri Tigers during the game in the first round of the 2018 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Bridgestone Arena on March 16, 2018 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Michael Porter Jr. made his 2018 NCAA men’s tournament debut Friday night, but he wasn’t enough to propel the No. 8 Missouri Tigers to victory.

The No. 9 Florida State Seminoles won the first-round West Regional matchup 67-54 in Nashville, Tennessee, at Bridgestone Arena.

Mfiondu Kabengele provided a spark for FSU off the bench, posting 14 points and 12 rebounds.

Runs of 11-0, 13-0 and 15-0 coupled with a dominant first-half defensive performance keyed the Seminoles’ victory. Of note, FSU held Missouri to just 21.7 percent shooting after 20 minutes as the Tigers hit just five of their 23 field goals.

The Seminoles led 42-20 at the break, but a rejuvenated Tigers team caught fire in the second half, using a 9-0 run midway through the frame to cut the FSU’s lead to 50-44. However, the Seminoles responded with that aforementioned 15-0 run to take a 65-44 advantage with 5:28 remaining.

Kabengele wasn’t the only Seminole reserve to have a big game, as Trent Forrest stuffed the stat sheet with eight points, eight assists, six rebounds, three steals and two blocks. He was also a catalyst for FSU’s strong first half, as Safid Deen of the Orlando Sentinel noted:

Porter, who is projected to be a top-five pick in the 2018 NBA draft if he declares, amassed 16 points, 10 rebounds and three steals. However, he did not shoot well from the field (4-for-11) and also had four fouls and three turnovers.

In fairness, this was only Porter’s second game back from a serious spinal injury that sidelined him for all but two minutes during the regular season, so naturally, he didn’t get back his rhythm after missing so many games. It was also just the third contest of his collegiate basketball career.

Jeff Goodman and Jonathan Givony of ESPN provided some context regarding Porter’s performance and season:

The Seminoles were simply too strong for the Tigers all game, and Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports offered high praise afterward:

Now they’ll face the No. 1 Xavier Musketeers in the second round Sunday. Missouri ended its season with a 20-13 record.

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