Hunter Dickinson helps Kansas hang on to beat Samford

League: NCAA Basketball

Posted on: 22 Mar, 2024 at 06:36 AM

Credit: Gabriel Mayberry-USA TODAY Sports

Hunter Dickinson registered 19 points, 20 rebounds and four blocked shots to help Kansas escape an upset bid and post a 93-89 victory over Samford on Thursday night in a Midwest Region first-round game at Salt Lake City.

KJ Adams Jr. scored 20 points and Nicolas Timberlake added 19 points for fourth-seeded Kansas (23-10). Johnny Furphy added 16 points and eight rebounds and Dajuan Harris Jr. had 13 points and seven assists for the Jayhawks, who never trailed but nearly let a 22-point, second-half lead slip away.

Achor Achor recorded 23 points and eight rebounds and Jaden Campbell made five treys while scoring 18 points for 13th-seeded Samford (29-6). Riley Allenspach made all four of his 3-point attempts while scoring 15 points for the Bulldogs, who were part of March Madness for just the third time.

Kansas will face No. 5 Gonzaga in Saturday's second round.

The Jayhawks played without All-America forward Kevin McCullar Jr., who will miss the rest of the season due to a bruised knee. Dickinson played through a shoulder injury.

Samford trailed 88-86 after a monster dunk by Achor with 38 seconds left.

The Jayhawks broke the press for Adams' dunk, but the Bulldogs received a 3-pointer by Campbell with 19.9 seconds left to trail by one.

Timberlake made two free throws with 14.7 seconds remaining to give Kansas a three-point lead. The foul called on A.J. Staton-McCray was questionable, and Samford coach Bucky McMillan felt his player made a clean block.

"I thought A.J. made an incredible play on it," McMillan said. "I'm not faulting the call. ... If there is no whistle, we're going to have a numbers advantage going the other way to advance to Round 2. That's how close the game was."

Jermaine Marshall's 3-point attempt bounced off the back of the rim with under six seconds left, and the Jayhawks closed it out.

Kansas coach Bill Self said on the frantic Samford's pace, dubbed "Bucky Ball" in honor of McMillan, "That's my first experience with 'Bucky Ball' and I'd assume not play against it again for a while. It's a hard game for us with very little depth and you have to play guys the entire game. There's just never a break in the action where you can catch your breath."

Dickinson added, "When things weren't going our way, they came back from (22) points, a lot of teams could have folded. That's what happens in March. A lot of runs happen like that. The crowd is into it. It is what it is. We were able to come out with the win."

Kansas shot 60.3 percent from the field, including 6 of 18 from 3-point range, and committed 18 turnovers.

The Bulldogs made 41.1 percent of their shots and were 16 of 37 from behind the arc.

The Jayhawks led by 10 at halftime and quickly expanded the lead.

Adams made consecutive baskets, Harris drained a 3-pointer and Furphy converted a three-point play as Kansas ran off 10 straight points to take a 61-40 lead with 16:55 remaining.

After Achor split two free throws, Adams slammed home a dunk to make it a 22-point advantage.

Samford outscored the Jayhawks 37-16 over the next 11-plus minutes. Allenspach made three treys during the initial 26-12 charge as the Bulldogs moved within 75-67 with 9:04 left.

Dickinson's inside basket gave Kansas a 79-69 edge before Samford scored nine straight to move within one on Rylan Jones' basket with 5:14 remaining.

Kansas later led 86-79 after Timberlake buried a 3-pointer with 2:52 left.

Kansas shot 69.2 percent (18 of 26) in the first half while holding a 48-38 lead. Dickinson had 13 points and 10 rebounds in the half.

--Field Level Media