2024 March Madness scores, takeaways: Kansas survives Samford after phantom foul; NC State's run continues

Day 1 of the first round of the NCAA Tournament Thursday provided thrilling finishes, upsets, and even a controversial ending that marred Samford's comeback bid over Kansas. Samford guard AJ Staton-McCray appeared to block Nicolas Timberlake's dunk attempt, but it was instead called a foul on the floor. The Kansas guard made both free throw attempts, and the Jayhawks held on for a 93-89 win.

The first game on the slate saw No. 9 seed Michigan State do what they do best during March: Win. The Spartans defeated No. 8 seed Mississippi State 69-51 in what proved to be an early sign of teams from the SEC struggling to advance.

No. 3 seed Kentucky was on the wrong side of the biggest upset of the day when No. 14 seed Oakland ended its season prematurely thanks to the heroic efforts of sharpshooter Jack Gohlke, who finished with a game-high 32 points in an 80-76 win. The Wildcats haven't made it past the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament since 2019.

It was a good day for No. 11 seeds as Oregon, NC State, and Duquesne won their respective games over No. 6 seeds South Carolina, Texas Tech, and BYU. Mountain West champion New Mexico is the final No. 11 seed in action during the first round, and they will face No. 6 seed Clemson on Friday.

While the Pac-12 is in its final season of full membership, the "Conference of Champions" had a fantastic opening day. Oregon, No. 2 seed Arizona, and No. 7 seed Washington State each won their respective games. The most memorable result of the evening was WSU's 66-61 comeback win over Drake to give the program its first NCAA Tournament victory since 2008.

Phantom call saves Kansas

No. 4 seed Kansas survived a comeback bid from No. 13 seed Samford and won 93-89, thanks largely to a controversial call with 14 seconds remaining. As the Jayhawks broke Samford's press while leading 90-89, KU guard Nic Timberlake attacked the basket for a dunk, only to have the ball dislodged by Samford's A.J. Staton-McCray. A late whistle came, indicating a foul on Staton-McCray and sending Timberlake to the line for two free throws.But a replay clearly showed a clean block and suggested it was Timberlake's own swinging on the rim that caused him to fall to the floor — not contact from Staton-McCray. Timberlake made both free throws to give KU a 92-89 advantage, and the Bulldogs missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer on the other end, which allowed the Jayhawks to advance to the second and a Saturday showdown with No. 5 seed Gonzaga. Without the phantom foul, Samford would've had numbers on a transition opportunity down by one and wouldn't have been forced to attempt a 3-pointer. Alas, the questionable whistle helped the Jayhawks avoid what would have been their first exit in the first round of the Big Dance since 2006.

NC State's dance continues

NC State seemed destined for a quick exit from the postseason when it limped into the ACC Tournament with a 17-14 (9-11 ACC) record on March 12. The Wolfpack had lost seven of their previous nine games to slip from at-large consideration for the NCAA Tournament into irrelevance. The Wolfpack were so tarnished that they were forced into the indignity of playing on Tuesday of the conference tournament with the league's bottom-dwellers.Well, after winning five days in five days at the ACC Tournament to secure a spot in the NCAA Tournament, NC State is dancing on yet again. The No. 11 seed from the South Region beat No. 6 seed Texas Tech 80-67 to reach the second round and a date with Oakland. A season that once seemed lost is now one victory over a No. 14 seed away from progressing to the Sweet 16.

Washington State marches on

Making its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2008, Washington State faced a difficult opening matchup with No. 10 seed Drake. The Bulldogs entered off a Missouri Valley Conference Tournament title and with experience from an appearance in last year's Big Dance. But the Cougars proved they were no fluke by squeaking out a 66-61 win and securing a second round game against No. 2 seed Iowa State on Saturday.Isaac Jones led WSU with 20 points, and Jaylen Wells added 17 as the Cougars rallied from a 54-46 deficit over the final 7:47. Washington State was picked to finish 10th in the Pac-12 before the season but now finds itself among a surprisingly strong contingent from the conference. With No. 2 seed Arizona, No. 11 seed Oregon and the Cougars all winning, the Pac-12 went 3-0 on the first day of first round action.

2024 NCAA Tournament TV schedule

All times Eastern | NCAA Tournament schedule | LIVE bracket

 (9) Michigan State 69, (8) Mississippi State 51 -- Recap

(11) Duquesne 71, (6) BYU 67 -- Recap

(3) Creighton 77, (14) Akron 60 -- Recap

(2) Arizona 85, (15) Long Beach State 65 -- Recap

(1) North Carolina 90 (16) Wagner 62 -- Recap

(3) Illinois 85, (14) Morehead State 69 -- Recap

(11) Oregon 87, (6) South Carolina 73 -- Recap

(7) Dayton 63, (10) Nevada 60 -- Recap

(7) Texas 56, (10) Colorado State 44 -- Recap

(14) Oakland 80, (3) Kentucky 76 -- Recap

(5) Gonzaga 86, (12) McNeese 65 -- Recap

(2) Iowa State 82, (15) South Dakota State 65 -- Recap

(2) Tennessee 83, (15) Saint Peter's 49 -- Recap

(11) NC State 80, (6) Texas Tech 67 -- Recap

(4) Kansas 93, (13) Samford 89 -- Recap

(7) Washington State 66, (10) Drake 61 -- Recap

Who wins every college basketball game, and which favorites should be on upset alert? Visit SportsLine now to get picks and predictions for every college basketball game, all from a model that simulates every game 10,000 times.

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Final: (4) Kansas 93, (13) Samford 89

Shorthanded Kansas survived a scare from Samford to move into the second round. KU led by as many as 22, but Samford stormed back, drawing within one possession numerous times down the stretch. The Jayhawks escaped after a controversial call went their way late to help seal it. It was a big game for Hunter Dickinson, who finished with 20 points and 19 rebounds. KJ Adams also had 20 points and Nick Timberlake added 19.

KU will face No. 5 seed Gonzaga on Saturday.

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Final: (11) NC State 80, (6) Texas Tech 67

NC State's postseason surge continues after the Wolfpack pulled away from Texas Tech in the second half on the back of a dominant interior showing from Ben Middlebrooks, Mohamed Diarra and D.J. Burns. The trio combined for 54 points as the Wolfpack outscored the Red Raiders 42-20 in the paint. It took five wins in five days at the ACC Tournament for NC State to reach the Big Dance, and there is still gas left in the tank.

The Wolfpack will play No. 14 seed Oakland on Saturday in a battle of double-digit seeds to determine who reaches the Sweet 16. What a run from coach Kevin Keatts' squad, and it may not be done yet.

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Final: (7) Washington State 66, (10) Drake 61

One of the final games on Day 1 of the first round of the NCAA Tournament provided a thrilling finish. After trailing by as many as eight points late in the second half, Washington State rallied to defeat Drake, 66-61. The Cougars will face No. 2 seed Iowa State on Saturday.

Isaac Jones scored a team-high 20 points, and Jaylen Wells added 17 in Washington State's first NCAA Tournament win since 2008. Drake ends its season with a 28-7 record.

 
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