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Samford’s Rylan Jones Had A Memorable End To His College Career

Mar 21, 2024, 11:08 PM | Updated: Mar 22, 2024, 12:31 am

Utah native Rylan Jones...

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH - MARCH 21: Rylan Jones #21 of the Samford Bulldogs celebrates during the second half against the Kansas Jayhawks in the first round of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Delta Center on March 21, 2024 in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY – Utah native Rylan Jones returned home with the No. 13 Samford Bulldogs for an NCAA Tournament game against the Kansas Jayhawks on Thursday.

Jones and the Bulldogs had a tall task in front of them with the No. 4 Jayhawks. But they weren’t fazed.

Samford stayed in the game until the final minutes but ultimately fell short.

Jones finished with 9 points, 9 assists, and 4 steals.

Rylan Jones Starts Against Kansas In First Round Matchup

Jones got the start in his hometown and immediately got to work.

He was a hound on defense and picked up an early steal.

Jones attempted two threes in the opening minutes but couldn’t find the bottom of the net.

But when the shot isn’t falling, the pass is always there. Jones recorded three assists in the first five minutes.

The Bulldogs struggled over the next ten minutes and Kansas took advantage. The Jayhawks built up a double-digit lead and threatened to blow the game open without some major strides from Samford.

The shooting struggles continued for Jones. He missed his next two attempts from the field, both mid-range jumpers.

This didnt stop him from continuing to make his mark. Jones tacked on another steal and assist which led to a highlight slam.

Kansas built its lead to as much as 16 but the Bulldogs outscored the Jayhawks leading into halftime and trailed by 10.

The beginning of the second half was all Kansas. The Jayhawks extended their lead to 20 after the first four minutes.

But then Samford went on a run.

Jones hit two threes in the middle of a 26-14 run that saw the Bulldogs close the lead to single digits.

The run didnt stop there.

After a pair of missed free throws, the Bulldogs hit a three to close the lead to four which forced a Kansas timeout.

Jones made a free throw on the next possession and followed that up with a contested layup to drop the lead to one.

With a minute left, Kansas led by four, 88-84.

Samford was forced to play the free throw game and Kansas was able to secure the win in the final moments.

It was an honorable performance from Samford regardless. They came back from down 20 and lost by just four, 93-89.

Rylan Jones’ Father: Family ‘Won Lottery’ With NCAA Tournament Draw

Chris Jones joined DJ and PK on the KSL Sports Zone to talk about Rylan Jones and the Samford Bulldogs taking on the Kansas Jayhawks in Salt Lake City.

“We did hit the lottery,” Jones said. “If I waited 30 years to win something, I was glad to win this. Lo and behold, we hit the jackpot.”

Jones went on to say that Rylan was able to get a good amount of tickets for family and friends.

Delta Center was rooting for the Bulldogs from the tip. The previous three games saw all of the top seeds winning which left fans wanting to see an upset.

With Kansas missing one of its top players and Samford winning 17 of its last 19 games, it looked like a very real possibility.

RELATED: Kansas Guard Kevin McCullar Jr. Ruled Out Of NCAA Tournament With Bone Bruise

It turned out to be just that. Samford showed a lot of heart and had a chance to win in the final minute.

About Rylan Jones

Jones was raised in Utah and fell in love with basketball from a young age.

Playing at Logan High School and Olympus High School, Jones found a lot of success and looked primed for a collegiate career.

Jones led the Titans to a 5A state title in 2018 and was named the state of Utah’s Mr. Basketball and Gatorade Player of the Year. He was ranked as a four-star prospect and a top-25 point guard in the nation.

The Utah native decided to stay home and committed to the University of Utah. Jones played in 45 games for the Utes across two seasons and was an immediate impact player.

Injuries caused a lot of problems for Jones in the 2020-2021 season which led to him transferring to Utah State.

Jones played in 31 games for the Aggies in 2021-2022 but injuries caused him to play in just 13 games for USU last season.

Not ready to give up on his basketball dreams, Jones transferred to Samford before this season and had a resurgence. The 6-foot guard averaged 9.4 points and 4.9 assists and was a key part of the Bulldogs’ path to the NCAA Tournament.

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Chandler Holt is a co-host for the Jazz Notes podcast and a Digital Sports Producer for KSLSports.com, specializing in all things basketball and football. Follow Chandler on Twitter @ChandlerHoltKSL or on Threads @chandlerho1t.

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Samford’s Rylan Jones Had A Memorable End To His College Career