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Kansas holds off Samford scare to set up NCAA Tournament Round of 32 matchup with Gonzaga

Mar. 21—SALT LAKE CITY — When Kansas stretched its lead to 22 points in the second half of Thursday's nightcap, Gonzaga players and coaches likely started planning for a second-round NCAA Tournament matchup against one of the sport's premier blue-blood programs.

A spirited second-half charge from 13th-seeded Samford trimmed the deficit to one point inside the final 20 seconds, but the fourth-seeded Jayhawks survived a scare at the Delta Center, winning 93-89 to set up a second-round matchup with the fifth-seeded Zags.

Saturday's game will tip off at 12:15 p.m. on CBS.

The Jayhawks went up 63-41 with 16:20 remaining on a dunk from KJ Adams, but the Bulldogs made 10 3-pointers in the second half to trim the deficit to one point on Rylan Jones' layup with 5:14 remaining and again when Jaden Campbell's 3-pointer fell with 20 seconds left.

Kansas' Nicolas Timberlake and Johnny Furphy combined to make three free throws down the stretch, helping the Jayhawks win their 16th straight opening-round NCAA Tournament game.

Kansas extended that streak hours after Gonzaga won its 15th straight tournament opener, briefly tying the Jayhawks' active NCAA record.

K.J. Adams led the Jayhawks with 20 points, and All-American big man Hunter Dickinson had 19 points and 20 rebounds. Kansas is playing without All-Big 12 guard Kevin McCullar Jr.

The Zags and Jayhawks have only met twice, most recently in the 2020-21 season opener at the Fort Myers (Florida) Tipoff event. GU won 102-90 behind 72 combined points from Drew Timme, Corey Kispert and Jalen Suggs.