Clark Kellogg, Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley discuss the controversial foul on Samford, as well as the review system. Screen Grab: CBS/TNT Sports

Kansas defeated Samford in the final NCAA Tournament game of Thursday’s slate — and it wasn’t without controversy.

Clutching a one-point lead with the clock ticking down to 20 seconds, Kansas looked to inbound the ball under their own hoop. Nick Timberlake broke free and soared for a seemingly uncontested dunk. But in a desperate lunge, Samford’s A.J. Staton-McCray chased him down, leaped with incredible athleticism, and appeared to make a game-saving block.

But, alas, Staton-McCray was whistled for a foul.

On the CBS/TNT Sports postgame show, Charles Barkley, never one to mince words, didn’t hold back, calling it a “bad call.”

Clark Kellogg chimed in, agreeing with Barkley, “They missed it, Charles. They missed it. It happens. It’s unfortunate, but it does happen.”

“It happens, but it shouldn’t happen in these moments,” countered Kenny Smith. “That’s the key. This is difficult to swallow if you’re Samford.”

The thing that bothered Barkley about the questionable call is that everything is reviewed in college basketball. He pointed out that while numerous, arguably less important calls were reviewed, a potentially game-changing play at the end wasn’t subject to review because it was deemed a “judgment call.” Barkley argued that this system is flawed, as seemingly irrelevant calls can be reviewed while the most crucial moments of the game are left to the discretion of the officials.

“You can’t retroactively change the rules because of a situation that happens tonight,” replied Kellogg.

“That means the rules are just wrong then,” added Smith.

Barkley advocated for reviewing all plays, sparking a disagreement with Kellogg. The lead college basketball analyst for CBS Sports pointed out analysts like Barkley and Smith’s inconsistency, criticizing them for complaining about lengthy replays but now wanting even more reviews.

“They’re reviewing things that they think are relevant instead of what the game and coach feels is,” said Smith

Kellogg well took that point, agreeing that a challenge system needs to be in place.

We could’ve seen Samford head men’s basketball coach Bucky McMillan take a similar approach, advocating for officiating changes in his postgame press conference. Still, he elected to take the high road. Despite his team being denied a potentially historic comeback due to a controversial call deemed non-reviewable, McMillan opted not to publicly criticize the officials.

“I have seen the play. I thought A.J. made an incredible play,” explained McMillan. “You know what I’m saying? I’m not faulting the call. People can see it different ways. But I was really proud of our guys’ ability to go make a play. And at the end of the day. A.J.’s recovery there, if there is no whistle — I’m not blaming the whistle — we’re gonna have the number advantages going the other way to advance to Round 2; that’s how close the game was. And that’s how well our guys played because we were down by 22, and we’re gonna have the ball there with however much time left going the other way with a great opportunity. It is what it is.”

Perhaps McMillan, understanding that the call was controversial, understood that the points in his team’s favor would be made by the likes of the CBS/TNT Sports postgame show. And it largely was. You can’t have it both ways, as Kellogg alluded to, but there should be a need to get the call right on the sport’s biggest stage. And with every opportunity to make the postgame presser a referendum on why his team was jobbed by the officiating, McMillan left that in the hands of the analysts.

[Matt Norlander on Twitter/X]

About Sam Neumann

Since the beginning of 2023, Sam has been a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. A 2021 graduate of Temple University, Sam is a Charlotte native, who currently calls Greenville, South Carolina his home. He also has a love/hate relationship with the New York Mets and Jets.