Porter scores 24, Missouri ends skid with win at Vanderbilt
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By CHIP CIRILLO
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Jontay Porter ended his shooting slump and Missouri ended its three-game losing streak.
Porter scored a career-high 24 points, including four 3-pointers in the Tigers' 74-66 win at Vanderbilt on Tuesday night.
"That was pretty refreshing because I haven't been shooting the ball very well lately," Porter said. "The pick and pop, first half, was really open and then they went to zone. That's when I felt like I really had the chance to exploit that, like go in the middle kicking it or shooting it."
Porter hit 9 of 10 from the floor, including all four of his 3-point attempts. The 6-foot-11 freshman enjoyed a strong overall game with seven rebounds and six assists.
Jordan Barnett added 17 points for the Tigers (19-11, 9-8 Southeastern Conference), who spoiled the Commodores' home finale.
"They were in their zone kind of really spread out, so Jontay was just open a lot," Barnett said. "So, I mean, if he's open we're going to throw it to him every single time. And he was able to hit a ton of shots tonight in a huge game."
Missouri shot 58 percent from the field on 26 of 45 shooting, including 12 of 22 from distance.
"We like our chances when teams play zone - you flash and get in the middle," Tigers coach Cuonzo Martin said. "We've spent a lot of time in that area since the (Texas) A&M game because we had opportunities like that and didn't capitalize. Jontay did a great job of making adjustments, reading it and shooting the ball in rhythm."
Senior Jeff Roberson led last-place Vanderbilt (11-19, 5-12) with 19 points in his final game at Memorial Gym.
Fellow senior Riley LaChance exited with 17 points, including five 3-pointers. Both players received standing ovations from the crowd of 8,812 when leaving the court during the final seconds.
"It's actually a little bit emotional when you think about everything you've been through," Roberson said.
The Tigers rallied to take the lead with an 18-4 run the second half as they shot 65 percent from the floor during the last 20 minutes.
Vanderbilt made 8 of its first 15 shots from 3-point range to take a 32-30 halftime lead.
Missouri: The Tigers improved their NCAA Tournament credentials with an SEC road win.
Vanderbilt: The Commodores lost their third straight game.
PORTER JR. STILL OUT
Missouri freshman Michael Porter Jr., out since back surgery in November, warmed up with the Tigers, but didn't play against Vanderbilt. He was cleared to practice Thursday, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
The 6-10 forward was named to the Associated Press preseason All-America team and he was the SEC preseason Co-Player of the Year. He was the nation's top overall recruit out of Nathan Hale High School in Seattle.
"He's looking a lot better," Martin said. "Who knows? We'll see."
Vanderbilt senior Matthew Fisher-Davis, out with a season-ending shoulder injury, made his final start at Memorial Gym.
The Commodores fouled immediately to get him out of the game safely. Fisher-Davis ranks sixth in school history with 269 career 3-pointers and he scored 1,219 career points.
"We spent basically three and a half years together and it was great having him out there even if it was just for a second because I know he wanted to be out there playing as hard as he could if he could," Roberson said.
Roberson and LaChance broke into double figures, but Vanderbilt didn't get enough scoring support from the rest of the team. "Obviously, when we get that third and fourth option getting double figures that's when we've been successful," Vandy coach Bryce Drew said. "Unfortunately, we just couldn't get to that point tonight. Once Missouri got in rhythm, they never let us get back in it and really make a good run at them."
Missouri hosts Arkansas in its regular-season finale Saturday. The Razorbacks entered Tuesday's games as the SEC's second-highest scoring team (82.2 ppg).
Vanderbilt ends its season at Ole Miss (12-17) on Saturday. The Commodores are 0-10 in road games.
Updated February 27, 2018