The Samford Bulldogs Men’s Basketball team (14-8, 4-6) is nearing the end of its 2021-2022 regular season. The Bulldogs, led by head coach Bucky McMillian, are currently seeded sixth in the Southern Conference.
The Bulldogs started off the season red hot against some formidable Power 5 opponents. On Nov. 18, they upset Pac-12 championship contender Oregon State on the road. One month later, they upset the Ole Miss Rebels in Oxford, Mississippi.
The Bulldogs finished their pre-conference schedule 10-2. Everything was set for “Bucky Ball” to dominate the Southern Conference. However, the SoCon once again proved to be more challenging than many believed it would be for the Bulldogs.
Samford began conference play with two straight road losses. Upon returning back to Birmingham, the Bulldogs won their first conference game against Western Carolina on Jan. 8.
The next 10 days for Samford would yield four straight losses. The Bulldogs, whom many saw as a serious contender for the SoCon championship, were now 1-6 in the conference.
The Bulldogs snapped the losing streak by upsetting the Mercer Bears 75-61 at home on Jan. 26. This win also snapped Samford’s stunning 17-game losing streak to Mercer, which began in 2002.
This victory was followed by another victorious stomping, this time against Western Carolina by a score of 74-64 on Jan. 29. This win was the first time McMillan had won back-to-back conference games in his two-season career with Samford.
The Bulldogs then took down the mighty top-seeded Chattanooga Mocs 80-72 on Feb. 2. Not only was Chattanooga the top seeded team in the conference, but they were also ranked No.39 in the entire country. This victory might have been the biggest conference victory in McMillan’s young career.
After a wild first leg of conference play, the Bulldogs now have just six more games before the end of the regular season. The better the seed, the better the odds that McMillan’s Bulldogs have to win the conference tournament.
The Bulldogs have been led by a talented class of transfers recruited by McMillan. These first-year transfers hold the team highs for scoring (Ques Glover), assists (Glover) and rebounds (Jermaine Marshall).
Glover has been the offensive leader of this year’s team. He leads the team in points per game (17.7) and assists per game (4.3). While Glover has only made 16 three-pointers this season, the former Florida Gator’s scoring mainly comes from his agility while driving to the basket.
Marshall, the sophomore transfer from the University of Akron, leads the team in rebounds per game (8.1). His presence in the paint will likely be an essential piece for his team’s remaining schedule.
Though Glover and Marshall have adjusted well into McMillan’s system, some are still trying to find their place on the team.
Wesley Cardet Jr., a four-star recruit a year ago in high school, has averaged just 8.6 points per game during the SoCon schedule. Cooper Kaifes, the sharpshooting transfer from Loyola-Chicago, has only averaged 6.3 points per game during the SoCon stretch.
However, Cardet and Kaifes have proved their ability to be impact players earlier this season. Finding ways to get the two more involved in the offense would be a huge boost for this Samford team, which currently ranks eighth in the conference for field goal percentage (.429).
The Bulldogs were red hot once upon a time earlier this season, and they likely have the talent to get hot again to finish out the season. With wins against powerful programs like Oregon State and Ole Miss, a conference tournament championship is not out of reach for Bucky McMillan and the Samford Bulldogs.
The Southern Conference Tournament will take place on March 3-7 in Asheville, North Carolina. Last season, the Bulldogs lost in the first round to Mercer, who went on to finish second in the tournament.