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If Porter - a five-star recruit and the highest-ranked prospect to ever sign with Mizzou - returns, it gives the Tigers even more ammunition heading into their first-round SEC Tournament match-up against either Georgia or Vanderbilt on Thursday.

"I think they'll be fine because they've had a chance to play with him", Cuonzo Martin said of adding Porter Jr. back.

He would later undergo back surgery in a procedure that was expected to end the freshman's college basketball career.

The timing of his return comes at a good time for the Tigers. With or without Michael Porter Jr., Missouri has to get more from its senior leader if it's going to make any noise in the NCAA Tournament next week. Porter had suggested during the season that he would work to return, and that's set to happen for Thursday's game against the victor of Georgia-Vanderbilt. The Tigers struggled to stay afloat, needing a constant flow of outrageous 3s from graduate transfer Kassius Robertson and ultimately just couldn't keep up.

IT WAS OVER WHEN: Robertson's wide-open corner 3-pointer rimmed out, and Missouri couldn't get another shot off before the buzzer. During the 1982-83 season, she averaged 58.7 points per game.

For their part, the Tigers have positioned themselves for an NCAA Tournament bid for the first time since the 2012-13 season.

Robertson racked up eight 20-point games out of Mizzou's 18 conference games played.

Missouri and Porter waited four long months for this moment, and it's important to remember all he's gone through before playing just his second collegiate game ever. While most Missouri fans will be happy making the dance and winning one game, knowing the lineup we can put on the floor they are capable of more.

The school said he would be out the entire season, Porter Jr. refuted that and said he would be back this season. But I think we'll be fine. "They beat this team (Georgia) once without me".

"We were forcing shots a little bit and not letting things come to us", Geist said.

"Coach (Avery Johnson) just told me to race it up the floor to get to the basket", Sexton said.