The rich are seemingly getting richer, as Samford men’s basketball has extended their win streak to eight games after victories over Wofford, Chattanooga, ETSU, and, most recently, Western Carolina. Of course, each game tells a very different story, but one thing is for sure: Bucky McMillan continues to lead a seemingly unstoppable team as March fast approaches.
In the first game of the stretch, Samford obliterated Wofford 83-58 at the Pete Hanna Center. The game’s story was shooting, as the Bulldogs shot an unreal 53% from the floor and went 41% from behind the arc. Four players scored in double figures, led again by Logan Dye with 19 points. However, Jaron Rillie might have had the best all-around game, as he finished with seven points, nine assists, and six steals. He has become a viable guard in the rotation and is a pest on the defensive side of the ball. It is a testament to the depth of Samford that Rillie, who could start for most SoCon teams, comes off the bench.
After the Wofford blowout came probably the best game in the four-game stretch, as Samford erased a 19-point deficit against Chattanooga to pull off a thrilling 75-74 victory. In the first half, Samford frankly looked dead in the water. Chattanooga was getting easy looks inside and forcing low-percentage shots from a normally potent Samford offense. It would have been easy to pack it up at the half, with the Mocs up 45-31 and dictating the pace of the game. However, Samford went on a 17-5 run early in the second half, cutting the lead to 60-53 with 10 minutes and change to go. The Bulldogs finally tied it with 5:58 left on a Jermaine Marshall slam and used clutch free-throw shooting to escape with a victory.
Bucky McMillan had some wise words after the game: “Everyone can stay the course when things are going your way, but what happens when it’s almost embarrassing out there for you? Can you keep going? And you saw our guys play with a lot of heart and a lot of guts.”
The Bulldogs traveled to Johnson City soon after the Chattanooga victory and added another W to the column against the ETSU Bucs. A.J. Staton-McCray was vital down the stretch, as he scored five points over the final two minutes of the game to lead the Bulldogs to a 69-59 victory. Logan Dye and Jermaine Marshall finished with 19 and 17 points, respectively.
Finally, yesterday’s home victory over Western Carolina saw the return of Ques Glover after a six-week hiatus. The guard was nothing short of stellar in his return from injury, pacing Samford with 20 points in 25 minutes. The difference in play was almost immediate. In games without Ques, the formula for the Bulldogs has been to play through Logan Dye, but with Glover’s return, the offense becomes much more diversified. Despite the well-deserved shine, Ques was quick to salute his teammates postgame: “I was out for six weeks, and the guys battled. They kept working, kept pushing, and we’ve started off conference play really strong.”
Samford basketball has never played better under Bucky McMillan, as this is the team’s best start to SoCon play since 2008 when they joined the league. This team is not dictated by any player, as any guy can genuinely take over on a nightly basis, a rarity in a star-driven college basketball world. However, despite all of the excitement and enthusiasm, the next three games, all on the road, will be pivotal. The Bulldogs will travel to Furman, Wofford, and Western Carolina, all massive road tests that will test Samford’s mettle.