ST. LOUIS (AP) – Yante Maten scored 21 points and grabbed 10 rebounds and Georgia spoiled the return of heralded freshman Michael Porter Jr. with a 62-60 victory over Missouri in the second round of the Southeastern Conference Tournament on Thursday.
Georgia , the 12th seed, led throughout the second half, but fifth-seeded Missouri narrowed the Bulldogs’ lead to just two points with seven seconds left. The Tigers drew up a play for their leading scorer, Kassius Robertson. But Robertson’s 3-point attempt went long and Georgia secured the victory.
After starting the game out down 10-0, the Bulldogs (18-14), who face fourth-seeded Kentucky in Friday’s second quarterfinal, charged back with a 12-0 run of their own. The trend continued throughout the contest: Missouri makes a run, Georgia responds.
Maten and the Bulldogs put Missouri in foul trouble early. Missouri bigs Jeremiah Tilmon and Kevin Puryear fouled out and Jontay Porter finished with four fouls.
Jontay Porter led Missouri (20-12) with 20 points and eight rebounds. His brother, Michael, a projected lottery pick who played just two minutes in the season opener and later had surgery, finished with 12 points and eight rebounds, but shot just 5 for 17 from the field.
Teshaun Hightower came up big off the bench for Georgia, matching his career high of 13 points. Hightower played a big role in Georgia’s win over Vanderbilt Wednesday night, when he scored 13 and had six assists.
Georgia: The Bulldogs looked impressive against Vanderbilt in the first round, and they looked solid against Missouri here in the second as well. Maten will need to have a big game against Kentucky to keep Georgia’s tournament hopes afloat.
Missouri: With a home court advantage, Missouri was obviously hoping to make it past the second round in the tournament. But the Tigers should still be safe on Selection Sunday. Porter Jr. looked good at times, but he didn’t shoot well overall. If the Tigers make the NCAA tournament, it will be interesting to see his role Missouri’s offense.
Georgia will take on Kentucky on Friday in the quarterfinals of the SEC tournament.
Missouri will wait until Sunday to figure out where it will go next.
By CHARLIE CLARKE, Associated Press