As Gray dribbled near midcourt, Sampson pointed toward the rim and yelled: “Get fouled! Get fouled!” Gray drove but avoided contact. The ball rolled in. And when Kell’s three-pointer bounced off the rim, the Cougars had their first NCAA win in forever, Sampson had his first in 11 years — and both the program and the coach were looking forward rather than back. Saturday lies ahead, and a date with No. 3 Michigan in the second round.
“I’m glad we won for — you know, it’s been a long time,” Sampson said. “But … we’ve gone from building this program to the point where we get to the tournament, and the first time we’re here we beat a really good team, and we’re getting ready (for the second round). I think that’s more significant.”