Despite Thin Roster, Missouri Sets High Expectations For SEC Tournament

(Photo Credit: Marcio Jose Sanchez - Associated Press)

After capping off its first 20-win season since the 2013-2014 campaign, Missouri basketball moves forward as a five-seed in the SEC Tournament.

With their highest seeding since joining the SEC, the Tigers look to move past the quarterfinals, the furthest they’ve gone in the tournament.

Missouri will face the winner of the No. 12 Georgia versus No. 13 Vanderbilt matchup on Thursday. The Tigers swept both teams in the regular season, each by nearly double digits.

However, if Missouri advances to the quarterfinals, on Friday, they will then face the fourth seeded Kentucky Wildcats. The Tigers are 1-1 with Kentucky on the season, but 1-11 since joining the SEC.

In the Tigers last meeting with the Wildcats, they lost by more than 20 points. Kassius Robertson and Jordan Barnett were the only players to hit double digits, both shooting below 50 percent from the field. Kentucky capitalized on the Tigers 12 turnovers, putting up 23 points.

Missouri will enter the post-season with eight players in its rotation, following junior guard Cullen Vanleer’s ACL tear in their victory over Arkansas on Saturday.

Despite Michael Porter Jr. being cleared for all basketball activities on Feb. 22, the freshman forward has not seen the court. In a statement the team said, “The plan is to keep working, with an eye on potentially playing at the SEC Tournament and helping our squad be successful in the next postseason.”

After Missouri’s victory over the Arkansas Razorbacks on Saturday, head coach Cuonzo Martin expressed similar sentiments, saying Porter Jr., “just wasn’t quite ready,” for the matchup versus the Razorbacks. However, Martin said he believes he could play in the tournament.

Missouri will face either Georgia or Vanderbilt on Thursday at 2:30 p.m. at Scottrade Center in St. Louis.

Nathalie Jones covers the Missouri Tigers and you can find her on Twitter @Nath_Joness