BRANSON MO NEWS: Wearing Nike T-shirts that read “Just Never Stop,” Kevin Puryear strutted out onto Norm Stewart Court. It was Sunday, Selection Sunday, and the time had finally come.After losing 68 games the last three years as a member of the Missouri men’s basketball program, Puryear watched with teammates as the Tiger logo appeared on the big screen with MU as an at-large selection. Then, after three regions of the bracket had been revealed, he craned his neck and looked up at the big screen.There, with cheers of fans echoing across the Mizzou Arena floor, it was announced on TBS: At approximately 8:50 p.m. Friday in Nashville, Tennessee, No. 8 seed Missouri (20-12) will face No. 9 seed Florida State (20-11) in the NCAA Tournament’s West region.
“It’s a tremendous honor for the university given the past we have had,” Puryear said, smiling, “especially given the past we’ve had these last three seasons.”From 2014-17, Missouri’s men’s basketball program had fallen to the depths of high-major Division I basketball.Not to mention, it had lost fan support.Now, just a year later, after the hiring of St. Louis native Cuonzo Martin — who subsequently hired assistant coach Michael Porter Sr. and secured signings from sons Michael Jr. and Jontay — the Tigers will be competing in the field of 68 for the first time since 2013.“I’m happy for our guys, our staff, our families,” Martin said. “Any time you work hard and you get yourselves in the NCAA Tournament, it’s always a great thing and a great feeling.”The season did not go as many expected — not in the slightest. Yes, before the season, Missouri expected to make the NCAA Tournament (ESPN’s Joe Lunardi thought MU would, too). But, no, the Tigers did not expect to have …
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