Samford Basketball is arguably playing the best basketball in the Bucky Ball era, as the team has racked off five straight wins and now stands alone for first place in the SoCon.
The Bulldogs most recently have won two tight contests in the Pete Hanna Center, as they defeated The Citadel 76-70 and beat UNCG 83-71 in a stellar come-from-behind victory.
Against The Citadel, Jermaine Marshall erupted for a game-high 23 points and seven rebounds. Logan Dye and Ques Glover both added 16 points to help overcome a late charge from The Citadel. Samford’s defensive effort was a big key to the game, as they forced 22 turnovers and 13 steals, both season-highs for the Bulldogs in SoCon play.
However, Wednesday night’s victory over UNCG might be the crown jewel of Bucky McMillan’s career so far for Samford. With both teams coming into the game locked with Furman in a three-way tie for first, a lot was on the line at the Pete Hanna Center. The fans showed out in full force, creating an electric environment that was palpable from the opening tip.
UNCG didn’t shy away from the moment, playing brilliant team basketball with a defensive-oriented mindset under head coach Mike Jones. They dictated the pace of play up until around the 11-minute mark in the second half, when they led by 12 points. After that, it was pretty much all Bulldogs, and the run started from an unlikely source.
Achor Achor finished the game with nine points, five rebounds, and three steals. While those stats don’t pop off the page, Achor had the game of his life and was crucial to the Bulldogs’ win. Achor scored two free throws in a critical two-minute stretch, made a rare three-point jumper, forced a steal, and got a putback layup off an offensive rebound. He was electric, filling in nicely for Logan Dye, who finished the game with an uncharacteristic 5 points.
Bubba Parham, who Samford fans have been waiting to emerge, also had his best game in a Samford uniform. The combo guard finished with 21 points and shot 4-7 from beyond the arc. This was Parham’s highest-scoring game for the Bulldogs, and the hope is that the VMI/Georgia Tech transfer can bring the momentum from this game into the SoCon Tournament. And let’s not forget Ques Glover, who scored 17 points, including two dagger threes that put UNCG away for good.
After a slow start to the game, Samford scored 57 points in the second half. They shot 44% from the floor and the three-point arc, a high clip for a team that loves to score in a hurry. Another key to the game was Samford’s resiliency and team effort, which Head Coach Bucky McMillan discussed in his postgame press conference.
“Just a great win, a team win, from the coaches, the players, and the fans. When we win, we all win together. I’m just really happy for our school,” McMillian said.
After two close wins that tested the Bulldogs’ mettle, the team will travel to Lexington, Va., to face VMI. With a win over the Keydets, the Bulldogs would have their second consecutive 20-win season and would continue to add to their highest SoCon win total since joining the conference in 2008.