The length that the Samford men's basketball traveled in a short amount of time under Bucky McMillan is considerable.
During McMillan's first season at the school, the Bulldogs were 6-13 overall and won just 2 of 11 Southern Conference games. Two years later, Samford leads the SoCon with three games to play in the regular season.
McMillan took a few moments to reflect on that following his team's stirring come-from-behind victory in a first-place showdown with UNC Greensboro this past Wednesday.
"We won two conference games in the middle of Covid my first year," said McMillan, who made the short trip to Homewood and long leap into college basketball after building Mountain Brook High into a state power. "Samford had never finished, I think, higher than seventh. They never had a first-round bye in the SoCon. If you would have told me three years ago, we'd be sitting here talking about if we could win one of the next two games (to play) for the regular season conference championship against Furman, sign me up. That's how you want it."
Samford (19-9 overall, 13-2 conference) leads Furman and UNC Greensboro by a game in the SoCon standings. The Bulldogs own the tiebreaker over UNCG after sweeping the season series. Furman beat Samford, 91-84, in overtime on Jan. 25 and the Paladins come to the Pete Hanna Center on Feb. 25 in the regular season finale. If Samford and Furman take care of business over the next two games, then that meeting will determine the conference regular season champion.
For Samford, that means winning a pair of SoCon road games. The Bulldogs play at VMI on Saturday, with tip scheduled at noon CT. Samford plays at Chattanooga on Wednesday and then plays host to Furman three days later. Samford could win one of two on the road and still be the No. 1 seed with a win over Furman.
It's been a tough season for VMI (6-22 overall, 1-14 SoCon). The Keydets' lone SoCon win was a 75-69 victory over The Citadel on Feb. 2. VMI dropped an 87-78 decision at Samford earlier this season.
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