It was an uphill grind from start to finish, but the Kansas alumni team known as Mass St. advanced to Round 2 of the TBT in Wichita on Wednesday night with a 70-67 win over We Are D3.
The Jayhawks trailed for most of the game, including by nine points at halftime. But some timely shots and tough defense down the stretch helped Mass St. reach the finish line first in the winner-take-all, $1 million tournament that has taken over the summer hoops scene in recent years.
Former KU All-American Thomas Robinson led Mass St. with 21 points and 15 rebounds. That included an offensive rebound and put-back on the game’s final possession.
Consistent with Robinson being Mass St.’s most productive player, the team of former Jayhawks outscored the D3 team 42-30 in the paint on 61.8% shooting.
With the tournament utilizing the Elam Ending, which sets a target score at the first dead ball under 4 minutes remaining instead of playing out the clock, Wednesday’s game became a race to 70, with the teams knotted at 62 at the first stoppage late.
Mario Little, who missed a pair of free throws that would’ve won it and led to Robinson’s rebounding heroics, scored first with a three-point play on the first possession after the 70-point target score was set. From there, KU maintained the upper hand, with both teams playing with all-out effort in the final few minutes.
Little scored 17 points to finish second on the team in scoring. He was 4-of-4 at the free throw line until the final two misses. Keith Langford added 15 points and was the only other Mass St. player to score in double figures.
The Kansas team shot just 4-of-14 from 3-point range and turned the ball over 22 times, compared to just 11 turnovers for We Are D3, a collection of former Division III players.
Mass St. played without point guard Tyshawn Taylor, who missed the game because of a minor injury. Little started in his place, joining Robinson, Keith Langford, LaGerald Vick and Jamari Traylor in the starting lineup.
Mass St. now will play a team of former Missouri Tigers in Round 2 on Saturday, with the Show Me Squad knocking off a UNLV alumni team 96-90 in the early game on Wednesday night.
Jontay Porter, Paul Pressey and 2022-23 Tiger Isiaih Mosley, who grew up with current KU point guard Dajuan Harris Jr., are among the most notable names on the Missouri alumni team. Porter matched Robinson’s line of 21 points and 15 rebounds in his team’s win, knocking in five 3-pointers and adding three blocks to his night. Mosley added 23 points, 5 assists and 4 rebounds and Tony Criswell chipped in with 13 points and 8 rebounds.
It is not yet known whether Taylor will be available for Saturday’s game against the Show Me Squad, but he was active on the bench in a pseudo-coaching role throughout Wednesday’s victory.
Saturday’s game is slated for a 3 p.m. tipoff on ESPN2.
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