Kansas saw its 22-point 2nd-half lead over Samford trimmed to 1 point late in the second half, including in the final seconds. The 4-seed Jayhawks escaped with a 4-point win over the 13-seed Bulldogs, and a controversial call has many feeling Samford was robbed of a potential victory.

Samford’s Jaden Campbell drained a 3-pointer with 20 seconds left to cut KU’s lead to 90-89. On the possession that followed, Kansas’ Nic Timberlake broke away and went up for a dunk.

Timberlake had the ball swatted away by A.J. Staton-McCray. Timberlake went to the line to shoot 2 free throws on a foul call, though Staton-McCray’s play looked clean on replay. Staton-McCray made an immediate recovery of the ball off the backboard.

Instead of it being Samford ball with 14 seconds to go in a 1-point game, Timberlake shot 2 free throws to make it 92-89. Samford’s Jermaine Marshall missed a 3-point attempt with 6 seconds remaining. Kansas went back to the line one more time before the horn sounded on a 93-89 game.

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Of all the calls that could not be reviewed…

In KU’s postgame press conference, Timberlake said he was “definitely fouled” on the play. Based on social media, the overwhelming majority of observers feel that Samford was robbed by the referees thanks to a phantom foul call.

Players, fans and coaches accept that occasional missed calls are part of the game. Calling a clean block, undoubtedly the defensive play of the game, as a foul is a terrible look for the officiating crew. The fact that the call came at the absolute worst time and may have swung the outcome makes the outrage justifiable.

Samford coach Bucky McMillan handled the situation with class in postgame. McMillan praised Staton-McCray’s block, but did not call out the officials.

“I have seen the play. I thought A.J. made an incredible play on it. You know what I’m saying? I’m not faulting the call,” McMillan said. “Some people can see it different ways. But I was really proud of our guys’ ability to go make a play.

“At the end of the day A.J.’s recovery there, there is no whistle… There’s no whistle, we’re going to have a number’s advantage to go the other way to advance to round two. That’s how close the game was. That’s how well our guys played. What was the maximum we were down? We were down by 22. We’re going to have the ball there with a great opportunity.

“It is what it is.”

The worst part of the situation may be the quirks of replay review.

In college basketball, the officials will go to their monitors to review many types of calls. A game will come to a halt for numerous replays to determine who touched the ball last on an early 1st-half possession. Fouls are frequently reviewed to determine whether they are common or flagrant. Goaltending calls get reviewed and overturned.

But when a game desperately needed a replay review? Nothing could be done.