After the big win over Kentucky, last night’s Mizzou trip to Ole Miss was the trap game to end all trap games. As if to signify and acknowledge this, the Tigers spotted the Rebels the first 11 points of the game. It was all business from there, though (with another couple of hiccups along the way, anyway); Mizzou scored 30 of the next 39 points and won by six. The Tigers have taken back-to-back SEC road games for the first time.
After Jontay Porter posted an 18 & 13 (& 5 & 4), Ole Miss’ Andy Kennedy said what we were all thinking:
“My goodness,” Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy later marveled. “Think about this now: This guy is a high school senior.”
Apparently positivity pays off.
“I talked to my brother (Michael Porter Jr.) and my dad (Michael Porter Sr.),” Jontay Porter said postgame. “The whole season, they’ve been telling me to be more aggressive.
”I guess I finally listened to them.”
Yes, Jontay, it has indeed worked out so far. A bit of an understatement.
Jontay Porter isn’t attempting to dunk on men, yet, but he said he has tried to be more assertive on offense ever since Mizzou lost three in a row — and the effort is showing. On Tuesday, for the third straight game — all MU wins — Porter scored in double figures.
“So far it’s worked out,” Porter said of his new mentality. “Hopefully we can keep it rolling.”
Vitale said that SEC Network broadcaster Tom Hart — who was calling Mizzou’s game on Tuesday — had texted him with juicy information. According to Vitale, Missouri coach Cuonzo Martin told Hart “don’t be surprised if he (Porter Jr.) plays this year.”
Your response, Cuonzo?
Full Cuonzo Martin quote on Porter Jr's status: "He hasn’t practiced with the team yet. He hasn’t practiced with the team at all. We’d love to have him back, if he’s healthy enough to get back. But he hasn’t done anything with the team.”— Dave Matter (@Dave_Matter) February 7, 2018
Actually, a little more here:
“He’s doing agility work, bouncing the ball, but nothing at practice,” Martin said. “I wouldn’t be shocked if I saw him on the floor, and I’m not saying that, because he hasn’t practiced or anything, so don’t misinterpret that or anything. He is fighting hard to get on the floor, and he is looking good, his body is great. He’s actually gotten bigger.”
One assumes that if/when Michael returns, it will be a pretty sudden thing with the least possible buildup. But this whole story line is at once exciting and frustrating. Safe to say, an MPJ return would be thrilling, but this team’s play without him is pretty thrilling right now, and talking about him instead of that feels a bit off-target.
Yesterday at Rock M:
- It’s National Signing Day again, and you’re going to want to read Dave Matter’s piece on Mizzou quarterback commit Lindsey Scott Jr. “If Lindsey is 6-3, he’s the No. 1 recruit in the country.”
- Saturday: #RallyForRhyan Day.
- Karissa Schweizer: national runner of the week AND Women’s Intersport Network collegiate sportswoman of the year. Her trophy case is the size of a storage facility at this point.
- Sophie Cunningham: Wooden Award finalist, or semifinalist, or whatever “late season top 20” signifies.
- Softball season begins tomorrow! Spring must be right around the corner! [walks outside, feels brisk 16-degree air, steps onto snow.]
- Norm Stewart will be honored by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association in April.
- Get your lounge passes now!