Broncbusters set school record in 11-point win over Indy
Independence, KS-Thomas Tut has experienced plenty of highs over the past eight months.
As a freshman at St. Peters, his team qualified for the NCAA Tournament back in March, becoming the first 15-seed in history to advance to the Elite Eight. Fast forward to November, and the South Sudan native is doing some of his best work on the Junior College circuit.
Tut scored 25 points and pulled down 15 rebounds, Brody Robinson added 23 points, seven rebounds, five assists, and two steals, and Garden City improved to 2-0 in conference play with an 82-71 victory over Independence at First Oak Bank Fieldhouse.
"To be honest, today was embarrassing," Head Coach, Rusty Elmore said. "It's going to be a long year if we don't clean some stuff up."
The second-year coach, whose team won its third consecutive game, was alluding to the fact that the Broncbusters turned it over a season-worst 24 times marking the second time this year that they've had 20 or more in a game (23 vs. Lamar on Nov. 6).
"The only bright spot in this game was our free-throw shooting," Elmore added.
Garden City connected on a school record 40-of-48 (83 percent) from the stripe and were a whopping 28-of-32 in the first half. They outscored the Pirates by 27 at the line.
"If Indy had one or two more players, they would have crushed us," Elmore said.
While the numbers weren't pretty, Garden City trailed for a total of 55 seconds in the game. After Ahmaree Muhammad's steal and spectacular finish over Robinson resulted in a three-point play that put the Pirates ahead, 25-23 with 7:45 to go in the first half, the Broncbusters countered with nine straight points, all but two of which came at the line. The lone exception was Tut's transition jam, which came off a beautiful setup feed from Braxton Jones to give the visitors a 32-25 edge with 6:25 remaining.
After Independence crawled back to within one, Garden City put the hammer down, closing the half on a 16-2 run to take a 15-point lead into the locker room. The more impressive feat during that stretch was the fact that the Broncbusters held the Pirates without a field goal for the final 6:01 of the period.
"It is what it is, but some guys really have to step up," Elmore said. "We had a couple of chances to put this game away, and we never really could."
Garden City built the lead to as many as 19 early in the second half following Robinson's layup that made it 52-33. But over the next nine minutes, the Pirates chipped away, and Muhammad's driving layup in traffic pulled Independence to within 10, 63-53 with 11:42 to go.
The home team never got any closer after that.
Robinson hit two free throws, Jordan Frazier found Tut along the baseline for a two-handed layup before the sophomore grabbed Frazier's missed 3-pointer from the wing and stuck it back home to give Garden City a 72-58 lead with 8:30 remaining.
The Broncbusters won the game despite shooting just 37 percent from the field and a season-worst 4-of-20 from beyond the arc. They did crush the Pirates on the glass, 46-28, and Frazier dropped in a season-best 17 points on 5-of-12 from the field.
Muhammad scored 23 for Independence, which dropped to 1-7 overall and 0-2 in conference play. BJ Williams finished with 11 points before fouling out late in the second half.