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Missouri freshman Michael Porter Jr to miss Monday’s game

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The official collegiate debut for Missouri freshman phenom Michael Porter Jr. was a short one, as he played just two minutes in Friday’s 74-59 win over Iowa State after aggravating a leg injury during pregame warmups. Fans will have to wait a bit to see Porter return to the court, as it was reported by ESPN’s Sean Farnham that the freshman will miss Monday’s game against Wagner.

When Porter will make his return is unknown, as he’s considered to be day-to-day.

With Porter out of the lineup his likely replacement is junior Kevin Puryear, who made significant contributions off the bench in Missouri’s regular season opener. Puryear played 29 minutes Friday night, shooting 6-for-7 from the field and scoring 17 points while also grabbing eight rebounds.

Also performing well in the front court against Iowa State was freshman Jeremiah Tilmon, who finished his collegiate debut with 14 points (7-for-9 FG), seven rebounds and one blocked shot. Jontay Porter, Michael’s younger brother, added five points, four rebounds and three assists in his first collegiate game.

Bill Self’s stance on Kansas/Missouri series remains unchanged

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Sunday afternoon in Kansas City, bitter rivals Kansas and Missouri got together on the basketball court for the first time since 2012, with the Showdown for Relief raising $1.75 million for recent hurricane victims. In what was an entertaining game, the Jayhawks won by the final score of 93-87 with point guard Devonté Graham leading the way for the winners with 25 points and ten rebounds.

Kansas finished the game with five players in double figures, including Mississippi State transfer Malik Newman (17 points) and center Udoka Azubuike (16). On the other side freshman Michael Porter Jr. paced four Tigers in double figures with 21 points while younger brother Jontay grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds off the bench.

However despite the excitement for the two rivals being on the same court in any capacity, Sunday’s meeting was different given the circumstances. Following the game Kansas head coach Bill Self was asked about the possibility of the two teams meeting in a regular season game, and he maintained the stance he’s held since Missouri left the Big 12 for the SEC.

“I’m not going to say never, but I don’t think there’s been any change in our position as far as the university goes,” Self said following Sunday’s exhibition. “I’m the spokesman, I guess, on this but trust me, I’m not the only one that feels that way.”

While it would certainly benefit college basketball if Kansas and Missouri were to renew acquaintances down the line, it is understandable that Self — and maybe some others on the Kansas side of things — would have reservations. The programs, even with the arrival of Cuonzo Martin in Columbia and the freshman class led by the aforementioned Michael Porter Jr., are in different places right now.

The Jayhawks have their sights set on a 14th consecutive Big 12 title and a run at their first national title since 2008, Missouri is looking to fast-track a rebuilding process after struggling mightily under former head coach Kim Anderson. Yet with that being said, the state of the two athletic departments during realignment likely has more to do with the teams not playing each other.

Missouri was a school with options earlier this decade before joining the SEC, but that was not the case for Kansas. Had the Big 12 broken up as some believed would be the case, where would the Jayhawks have landed? Fortunately for the school the Big 12 survived the realignment craze, losing four schools (Missouri and Texas A&M to the SEC, Colorado to the Pac-12 and Nebraska to the Big Ten) and adding TCU and West Virginia to get their membership number to ten.

Given that, the best bet for college basketball fans who want to see this rivalry played during the regular season may be to hope for the programs wind up in the same in-season tournament. Even better, how about the same NCAA tournament region?

Mizzou-Kansas benefit game raises nearly 2M for charity

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While there’s still a demand that longtime rivals Missouri and Kansas resume their basketball series at some point, Sunday’s exhibition game in Kansas City helped whet the appetites of many in attendance. But more important than the series and the opportunity for head coaches Cuonzo Martin and Bill Self to get an early evaluation of their teams against outside competition was the cause.

The rivals, separated by conference realignment that led Missouri to the SEC and the Big 12 to the brink of collapse, got together to raise money for hurricane relief. Multiple hurricanes hit the United States, Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands and other portions of the Caribbean earlier this fall, with some areas still in the early stages of getting things back in order.

The Showdown for Relief came about to help those in need, and it sparked a movement across college basketball as well.

It was announced at halftime of Sunday’s exhibition that the schools and their supporters managed to raise an impressive $1.75 million for hurricane relief.

According to Gary Bedore of the Kansas City Star more than $600,000 of the money raised came by way of pay-per-view sales for the game, which cost $40 for those unable to get to the Sprint Center.

Missouri lands four-star 2018 guard Torrence Watson

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Missouri continued its local recruiting momentum on Friday night as four-star Class of 2018 guard Torrence Watson pledged to the Tigers on Twitter.

The 6-foot-4 Watson was previously committed to Ohio State but he opted to open up his recruitment in late August. The native of St. Louis decided to stay in-state for his college commitment the second time around as he becomes the Tigers’ third commitment in the Class of 2018.

Watson joins three-star guard Javon Pickett and three-star junior college forward K.J. Santos as the Tigers have done a great job of stockpiling talent since the spring arrival of new head coach Cuonzo Martin.

A noted scorer, Watson averaged 29 points and seven rebounds per game as a junior at Whitfield High School.

Missouri AD wants Border War rivalry with Kansas to resume

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Could we see a return of the Border War? Missouri athletic director Jim Sterk is certainly hoping so.

In an appearance at a golf outing in Kansas City on Monday, Sterk was asked about Missouri’s dormant rivalry with Kansas as the two schools haven’t played since the Tigers left for the SEC a little over five years ago.

“I’d like for that to happen,” Sterk said Monday. “I think they made it a point when we left the (Big 12) that they weren’t going to play anymore, but we’re certainly open to that and I know (new men’s basketball coach) Cuonzo (Martin) will work on that behind the scenes and see if that can happen.”

While Missouri has been open to renewing the Border War, Kansas officials have publicly refused to play Missouri. Sterk is hoping that a new head coach, Cuonzo Martin, might be able to help get the series going again.

 “In order to have a game, you need two willing partners, so we’re open to doing that in football and basketball and some of our other sports,” Sterk said. “That would be great to do.”
Sterk’s comments means there is some reason to be optimistic about this rivalry having a revival but Kansas is still the driving force behind making the Border War happen again.
I’m hopeful the Border War can return. The final season of the Border War, the 2011-12 season, featured two high-level games between top-10 teams.  Missouri has obviously taken a dip in national stature since then but both fanbases would probably like to see this happen again.

(H/t: Tod Palmer, Kansas City Star)

Missouri lands No. 1 player in Class of 2017 as Michael Porter Jr. commits

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Missouri and new head coach Cuonzo Martin have landed the No. 1 player in the Class of 2017 a week after he took the job as forward Michael Porter Jr. committed to the Tigers on Friday.

Formerly a Washington commit under now-fired head coach Lorenzo Romar, the 6-foot-9 Porter was released from his Letter of Intent this week and many believed he’d end up back at Missouri.

The Porter family lived in Columbia for many years as two of Michael’s older sisters play for the Missouri women’s team while Michael Porter Sr. was an assistant coach for the women’s team.

When Porter Sr. was hired to Missouri to be an assistant coach on Martin’s staff this week — after losing his assistant coaching job at Washington when Romar was fired — it all but sealed the deal that the Porters would return to Missouri and Michael Jr. would play for the Tigers.

Missouri might not be an NCAA Tournament team next season after struggling to an 8-24 finish and 2-16 record in the SEC. But Porter might be the most productive freshman entering college basketball next season as he has a chance to be dominant in the SEC.