Samford’s Bucky McMillan ‘no fault’ in loss to Kansas
Samford’s Bucky McMillan ‘no fault’ in loss to Kansas

SALT LAKE CITY — Samford coach Bucky McMillan declined to say whether the officials were wrong to call AJ Staten-McCray a foul after he tried to block a dunk by Kansas guard Nick Timberlake.

What the fourth-year coach said after 13th-seeded Samford failed to upset fourth-seeded Kansas 93-89 on Thursday was that if the block had been clean, the Bulldogs would have gone the other way, with a point, five on four, with a chance to go to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

“That’s how close the game was,” McMillan said. “That’s how well our guys played. What was the maximum we were losing? We were down by 22. We’re going to have the ball there with a great opportunity.

“It is what it is.”

During his post-match press conference, a dejected McMillan was careful not to place the blame on the officials.

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

Timberlake said he was “definitely” fouled on the play.

And Kansas coach Bill Self avoided discussing the actual foul when asked if he had a good look at the dunk.

“I thought Nick attacked the basket well,” Self said. “He’s a much better athlete than a lot of people think. He attacks hard, just like he should.”

Samford got back into the game from long range. The Bulldogs finished with 16 3-pointers, 10 more than the Jayhawks, prompting Self to say it was “remarkable” that Kansas won despite the long-range margin. The Bulldogs hit eight 3-pointers during their 22-down comeback that started with about 16 minutes left.

Samford was pestered for most of the game, using a full-court press for straights and misses, which McMillan made his team’s identity. That led to seven steals, which turned into 15 points for the loss.

“This is my first experience with Bucky ball,” Self said. “I’d like to not play against him again for a while.

“It’s a tough game for us with very little depth. You have to play guys the whole game. We knew it would be like this. There’s just never a break in the action to catch your breath.”

The Bulldogs couldn’t compete with the Jayhawks’ size. Kansas had 54 points, led by center Hunter Dickinson’s 19 points and 20 rebounds. He was one of five Jayhawks in double figures, led by KJ Adams Jr.’s 20.

The Bulldogs were led by Akor Akor’s 23 points and Jayden Campbell’s 18. Freshman Riley Allenspach had 15 on an unexpected 4-of-4 3-point shooting. He entered the NCAA tournament making 6 of 25 on the season.

All of Allenspach’s 3-pointers came during Samford’s run to cut the deficit to one point.

That led to the deciding game with 14.7 seconds left. Samford got within one for the second time within five minutes. After a foul, Timberlake hit both free throws to extend the Jayhawks’ lead to 92-89. A 3-point attempt by Jermaine Marshall with about six seconds left fell short, and Kansas won a drive to the corner for possession.

“I think our guys really believed they were going to win,” McMillan said. “I even felt at half-time, if you asked me, I was very confident we were going to win. Then when we cut it, we had all the momentum, I thought we were going to win.

“When we didn’t win, I was shocked that we didn’t win.

By admin

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *