COLUMBIA, Mo. — In a game that had been touted as Michael Porter Jr.’s homecoming for months, Missouri’s freshman phenom spent the majority of it on the bench.
After a put-back layup for Porter’s first college points two minutes into Missouri’s season opener against Iowa State, the 6-foot-10 forward was taken out because of a hip injury and didn’t return for the remainder of Missouri’s 74-59 win.
Kevin Puryear and Jordan Barnett, two of Missouri’s most prominent players the last few years under Kim Anderson, combined to score 32 points in Porter’s absence. In his first game as a point guard, graduate transfer Kassius Robertson finished with 11 points.
Puryear scored 17 points to go along with eight rebounds, while Barnett had 15 points, three rebounds and three assists.
Porter emerged from Missouri’s tunnel to a thunderous ovation in Mizzou Arena’s first sellout in almost five years. After being taken out early in the game, the arena went silent as Cuonzo Martin made numerous substitutions, none of which included the team’s star player. At halftime it was revealed that Porter injured himself in warmups and was being held out for precautionary reasons.
After the game, Martin said Porter Jr. told him before the game that he was “not feeling right.”
“So that was pretty much it,” Martin said. “I had to talk to the doctor, trainers, Mike, but he was in the (scorer’s) book, so that’s why he was on the floor. If we didn’t have him in the book, I wouldn’t have him on the floor. I just think again his safety, his health is most important. It doesn’t matter who we play. That’s all I have right now.”
Puryear and Barnett got the crowd back into the game as they sparked an 8-0 run in late in the first half, giving Missouri a 39-25 lead going into halftime.
After having a poor performance in the team’s preseason exhibition against Kansas, Puryear was all over the floor for Missouri. He found Jeremiah Tilmon wide open underneath the basket in the second half and then hit a baseline jump shot shortly after.
Tilmon, who battled foul trouble throughout Missouri’s preseason, finished with 14 points and seven rebounds and was a factor on both ends of the court for Missouri. Five of his seven rebounds came on defense and he continued to impress with his post moves and athleticism around the rim.
Iowa State whittled its deficit to single digits numerous times early in the second half but Missouri always had an answer.
Cyclones guard Lindell Wigginton had a layup through traffic with just over 16 minutes left in the second half that cut Missouri’s lead to 47-39, but backup point guard Jordan Geist hit a shot the following possession, bringing the Tigers’ lead back to double digits.
Barnett and Puryear connected on back-to-back three-pointers with just more than six minutes to play, extending Missouri’s lead to 20 and sending the arena into mayhem, which put the icing on Martin’s first win as the Tigers’ coach. Mizzou snapped Iowa State’s streak of 117 games in which it didn’t lose a game by 15 or more points.
Missouri is back in action on Monday against Wagner. Porter’s status for the game remains unclear.
MISSOURI 74, IOWA STATE 59
IOWA STATE (0-1)
Beverly 3-7 0-0 6, Young 3-9 0-1 6, Weiler-Babb 6-9 0-1 14, Wigginton 3-9 2-4 10, Jackson 2-9 0-0 6, Talley 4-8 3-3 11, Lewis 1-5 0-2 2, Long 2-5 0-0 4. Totals 24-61 5-11 59.
Tilmon 7-9 0-0 14, M.Porter 1-1 0-0 2, Barnett 5-10 2-2 15, VanLeer 0-1 0-0 0, Robertson 3-12 3-4 11, J.Porter 1-4 2-2 5, Nikko 0-0 0-0 0, Puryear 6-7 3-5 17, Phillips 1-1 0-0 3, Harris 1-2 0-0 2, Geist 2-4 0-0 5. Totals 27-51 10-13 74.
Halftime—Missouri 39-25. 3-Point Goals—Iowa State 6-19 (Weiler-Babb 2-3, Wigginton 2-3, Jackson 2-4, Young 0-1, Talley 0-2, Beverly 0-3, Lewis 0-3), Missouri 10-23 (Barnett 3-7, Puryear 2-2, Robertson 2-6, Phillips 1-1, J.Porter 1-3, Geist 1-3, VanLeer 0-1). Fouled Out—None. Rebounds—Iowa State 21 (Young 8), Missouri 36 (Tilmon, Puryear 7). Assists—Iowa State 11 (Weiler-Babb 5), Missouri 17 (Geist 4). Total Fouls—Iowa State 13, Missouri 18. A—9,516 (15,061).