WICHITA, Kan. (Kansas State Athletics) – Jacob Pullen capped off a 30-point performance with the game-winner on Friday night (July 22) to propel the Purple & Black to a 75-73 win over the Lone Star Legends in the first round of The Basketball Tournament (TBT) Wichita Regional at Koch Arena.
The Purple & Black – K-State’s alumni team – now advance to play in the second round on Saturday (July 23) at 5 p.m., CT against the No. 7 seed Bleed Green (North Texas alumni), which upset No. 2 seed Eberlein Drive, 79-78, in the first session on Friday. Saturday’s second-round game will air on ESPN3.
The school’s all-time leading scorer and 3-point king missed his first eight shots of the second half but made the one that mattered most at the end of the game, giving the Purple & Black their first win in the TBT since advancing to the quarterfinals in 2018, which was the last time Pullen played on the team.
Pullen paced three former Wildcats in double figures with his game-tying 30 points, which came on 8-of-21 field goals, including 4-of-12 from 3-point range, and a near perfect 10-of-11 effort from the free throw line. Thomas Gipson, who played for school from 2011-15, added a double-double with 15 points and a game-high 11 rebounds, while recent grad Mike McGuirl added 12 points on 4-of-8 shooting, including 3-of-6 from beyond the arc.
Jordan Allen paced the Legends with a game-tying 30 points on 7-of-13 shooting in a losing effort.
The game was close throughout with the teams battling through 12 lead changes and seven ties, including 39-all at the half. The Legends led 61-59 after three quarters and held a 67-61 advantage with just 5 minutes to play after a 3-pointer by Allen. However, the newcomer McGuirl responded with back-to-back 3-pointers to tie the game at 67-all with 3:50 remaining. The Legends grabbed the lead once again at 71-68 on a triple by Timothy Holyfield before 4 straight points from Justin Edwards gave the Purple & Black a 72-71 edge.
With the teams nearing the Elam target score of 75 points, Holyfield gave the Legends a 73-72 lead with a pair of free throws. Sensing the moment, Pullen inbounded the ball and drove over midcourt before pulling up for a deep 3-pointer near the Wichita State logo to clinch the victory.
“There is certain stuff you don’t get anywhere else,” said Pullen of the purple-packed environment at Koch Arena. “It’s hard to describe. When you’re playing and you turn and see all the purple and everyone is hyped, you’re like there it goes again and another engine cranks up in me. I haven’t played in an atmosphere like that since college.”
Other winners on Friday included the No. 4 seed Air Raiders (Texas Tech Alumni) over 5-seed B1 Ballers, 90-89, and the top-seed Aftershocks (Wichita State Alumni) over No. 8 seed We Are D3 (collection of Division III stars), 83-52. The Air Raiders and Aftershocks will follow the Purple & Black and Bleed Green on Saturday at 7 p.m., CT.
The Wichita Regional Championship Game is set for Monday (July 25) at 8 p.m. CT.
The winner of the Wichita Regional will face the winner of the Omaha Regional in the quarterfinals in Wichita on Wednesday, July 27. Semifinals will be in Dayton, Ohio at UD Arena on Saturday, July 30, and the $1M winner-take-all championship game on Aug. 2.
For more information on Purple & Black and tickets for this year’s TBT, visit TheTournament.com.