Referees ripped for controversial foul in Samford-Kansas March Madness thriller
Referees ripped for controversial foul in Samford-Kansas March Madness thriller

College basketball

March Madness 2024

This is one call people will be talking about for a long time.

As No. 13 Samford looked to catch up and potentially upset No. 4 Kansas on Thursday night in their first-round matchup in the Midwest Regional, a controversial foul nearly ended the dream as the Jayhawks pulled out a 93-89 victory in the NCAA tournament.

After Jaden Campbell pulled the Bulldogs within one point with a 3-pointer with less than 15 seconds left in the second half, Kansas inbounded the ball and Nicolas Timberlake went in for a dunk to try and get the Jayhawks back within three points.

But AJ Staton-McCray caught him from behind with what looked like a perfectly timed block, giving Samford a shot.

However, it was all in vain.

The officials called Staten-McCray a shooting foul, and Timberlake sank both free throws and Kansas went ahead

They’ll play Gonzaga on Saturday in the second round, and if Timberlake thought there was any controversy, he didn’t let it go.

“I was definitely fouled on the breakaway,” he said.

However, replays showed that Staten-McCray appeared to only block the ball and should not have been called for a foul, leading to much outrage in the college basketball world.

Samford was called for a controversial foul on Nicholas Timberlake (above) late in the loss to

But any outrage over the call didn’t help little Samford, the Southern Conference champion, who was denied one last chance to try for its first tournament win in program history.

“I thought AJ had an amazing game, you know what I’m saying?” Samford coach Bucky McMillan said. “I don’t blame the call. You can see it in different ways. But I was really proud of our guys’ ability to play.”

“With the game on the line, that’s an incredible block taken away by Samford,” TBS analyst Brendan Haywood said.

AJ Staton-McCray (left) is called for a foul on Nicholas Timberlake late
in the second half of Kansas’ win. Getty Images

Rules analyst Gene Steratore agreed with Haywood’s assessment, as did a large number of social media users.

“I haven’t tweeted in a minute but this is ballllllllll,” Lonzo Ball posted on X in the moments after the call.

“Samford was called for a foul…COME ON! It was ALL BALL,” former NFL linebacker Chase Daniel wrote.

On the postgame roundtable show, analyst Kenny Smith also lashed out at officials.

“We sat here and watched them go through seven calls, but they couldn’t go through that,” Smith said.

After all the hype, Kansas will play Gonzaga in the second round.

— with AP

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