Jose Barea

From Puerto Rico to the America East final, K.J. Maura emerges as UMBC's small wonder

From Puerto Rico to the America East final, K.J. Maura emerges as UMBC's small wonder

Even as Vermont and UMBC distinguished themselves as the America East’s two best men’s basketball teams this season, set to play in Saturday’s tournament final, the gulf between the programs themselves seemed to widen. The Catamounts won their two meetings by a combined 43 points. Their winning streak in the all-time series ran to 23 games.

The matchup has seemed at times like a tech startup taking on a Fortune 500 company. Or an indie film against a Marvel Cinematic Universe tent pole. Or a 5-foot-8 guard versus a future NBA Rookie of the Year.

Which, actually, is exactly where Retrievers senior guard K.J. Maura found himself over five years ago — before he made his way to...

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