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Robertson's shot bounces off rim, Missouri falls to Georgia in SEC Tournament

Robertson's shot bounces off rim, Missouri falls to Georgia in SEC Tournament

March 9th, 2018 by Colin O'Brien in College Sports

Georgia's William Jackson II heads to the basket past Missouri's Jontay Porter during the second half of Thursday's SEC Tournament game in St. Louis.

Photo by Associated Press /News Tribune.

ST. LOUIS — Missouri had chances early and a shot late to put away Georgia in the second round of the Southeastern Conference Tournament, but couldn't find the winning edge.

The Tigers were down by as many as 12 points and stayed within four points during the final four minutes, but Kassius Robertson's open look from 3 to win with a second left was too strong in a 62-60 loss to the Bulldogs at Scottrade Center.

Despite scoring the game's first 10 points, Missouri couldn't put away the Bulldogs early,  despite Georgia committing four fouls before the first media timeout. And rather than giving up, Mark Fox's team buckled down defensively and held the Tigers scoreless for an astounding seven minutes of the first half.

Missouri, typically an efficient offensive team, missed 14 straight shots after a Jeremiah Tilmon layup with 13:39 to play that finally ended with a Michael Porter Jr. 3-pointer.

But by then, it was too late. The Tigers squandered the 10-0 lead, surrendered a 16-0 run, and never led again after the 9:58 mark of the first half, tying the game once in the second half before Georgia broke off an 8-0 run.

The Bulldogs were the first team in the bonus despite the way the game started. Tilmon and Kevin Puryear fouled out and Jontay Porter finished with four fouls. Porter also scored 20 points on eight shots, made 4-of-6 3s and had eight rebounds and one turnover in 28 minutes, but Missouri failed to keep anyone on the floor who could guard Georgia forward Yante Maten for long because of foul trouble.

Maten had a game-high 21 points and 10 rebounds and played much better on offense than in his last outing against Missouri, when he scored nine points.

"Yeah, it was good to see Jontay, he had a pretty good game offensively, so I'm proud of him," Porter Jr. said. "No, it was really fun to be out there with him. The encouraging part for us is just that, I mean, he's the only one who had a really good offensive game.

"We played, to me, about as bad as we played offensively, besides him, as we have all year. So we've got some things we've got to fix, but it's small things. We were just missing shots."

Porter Jr. finished with 12 points in his return, and Tilmon was the team's next leading scorer with eight. The two teams finished nearly even in rebounds and turnovers, but Missouri took nine more shots than Georgia, the conference's best field goal percentage defense, and made 34 percent of them to the Bulldogs' 38.

Robertson and Jordan Barnett combined for 10 points on 4-of-18 shooting, 2-of-10 from 3, and were defended well by Georgia's guards all game. Robertson finished the first half 0-for-3 from the floor.

"It wasn't frustrating," Robertson said. "It was frustrating that we were losing. I'm not really worried about the touches. We weren't losing because I wasn't touching the ball. That's not the reason. We were losing because we were giving up baskets."

Still, the Tigers had chances at the end of the game. Porter Jr. hit a 3 with a minute left to bring Missouri within one and Georgia gamely played along, missing three free throws in the final 13 seconds, but Missouri couldn't get a shot to fall in the final 60 seconds.

"We just felt like, going into the game, to get the ball inside to establish a presence down low," Missouri coach Cuonzo Martin said. "That's what we've done the last two or three games. Get inside and allow those big guys to work. We only had two guys go to the free-throw line the whole night. So the focus was really get the ball inside."

Missouri had a four-point advantage scoring in the paint, but was called for 25 fouls to Georgia's 17 and shot eight fewer free throws. Jordan Geist (2-for-4 at the line) and Porter (6-for-8) were the only Tigers to draw shooting fouls.

The Tigers await their seed for the NCAA Tournament on Sunday. They are projected to fall somewhere between an 8-seed and a 10-seed by bracketologists.