Kansas Escapes Samford Scare in NCAA Opener

Kansas basketball, NCAA Tournament, Samford scare

Kansas basketball narrowly escaped a scare from Samford in their NCAA Tournament opener in Salt Lake City. Before the game, Kansas athletic director Travis Goff expressed hope that the tournament would provide a chance for the team to refocus amidst a season plagued by injuries and inconsistent performances. Despite initially building a comfortable 22-point lead in the second half, the Jayhawks found themselves in a tight contest as Samford mounted a fierce comeback.

Samford managed to trim the deficit to just one point with 5:14 remaining in the game, putting Kansas on edge. However, the Jayhawks responded with a crucial 7-1 run, including a pivotal 3-pointer from Nick Timberlake, to extend their lead to 86-79. Yet, Samford refused to back down, continuously chipping away at the lead until they trailed by just two points with 38 seconds left on a thunderous dunk from Achor Achor.

Despite the pressure, Kansas managed to hold on. Timberlake was fouled on a breakaway dunk attempt and sunk two free throws to give the Jayhawks a three-point cushion. A defensive stand in the final possession, coupled with a free throw from Johnny Furphy, sealed the narrow 93-89 victory for Kansas.

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KJ Adams led the scoring for the Jayhawks with 20 points, supported by a resilient performance from an injured Hunter Dickinson and Timberlake, both contributing 19 points each. Kansas showcased their ability to handle Samford’s press for much of the game, shooting an impressive 60.3% from the field.

Moreover, Kansas dominated the boards, capitalizing on their height advantage against the smaller Samford squad. Despite missing key player McCullar, the Jayhawks demonstrated depth and resilience with all five starters reaching double-digit points.

With a challenging matchup against Gonzaga looming in the Round of 32, Kansas will need to maintain their offensive efficiency and collective effort to progress further in the tournament.

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