Kennesaw State, just 3 years after a 1-win season, is headed to NCAA tournament for the first time
After going 1-28 in his first season with the program, coach Amir Abdur-Rahim has led Kennesaw State to the NCAA tournament
For the first time in program history, and just three years after its one-win season, Kennesaw State is headed to the men's NCAA basketball tournament.
The Owls beat Liberty 67-66 to win the Atlantic Sun tournament on Sunday afternoon.
The win came after Terrell Burdin hit a free throw, and then intentionally missed the second with less than a second left on the clock. That forced Liberty to scramble to get the ball and put up a shot, something it failed to do before time expired, which gave the Owls the victory and sparked a massive celebration on their home court.
As called by @NolanRAlexander on Kennesaw State radio: pic.twitter.com/NHdCg0TqfN
— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) March 5, 2023
Is this real?#BONE | #HootyHoo 🦉🏀 pic.twitter.com/FB2CNJgCow
— Kennesaw State MBB (@KSUOWLSMBB) March 5, 2023
Reaching the NCAA tournament is an incredible feat for Kennesaw State. Looking at where the program was a few years ago makes that accomplishment even more impressive.
When head coach Amir Abdur-Rahim took over at the start of the 2019-20 season, which was 15 years after the team moved to Division I, the Owls were struggling. Abdur-Rahim inherited a team that went 6-26 the year before under Al Skinner, and he ended up going a brutal 1-28.
Slowly, Abdur-Rahim got the program moving in the right direction. The Owls won five games the following season, and then went 13-18 last season.
The Atlantic Sun tournament wasn’t easy. The Owls narrowly beat Queens by a point in the quarterfinals on Tuesday, and then used a late 6-0 run to beat Lipscomb in the semifinals.
Burdin led the Owls with 19 points in the win Sunday, and shot 7-of-10 from the field. Chris Youngblood added 16 points and five rebounds, and Brandon Stroud finished with 12 points and six rebounds. The school drew a record crowd of 3,805 at the KSU Convocation Center, and held the first game broadcast on national television in the arena.
It's unclear where the Owls will land in the NCAA tournament, but it doesn't matter much. After setting a school record with 26 wins, and winning 16 of their past 18 games of the season, the Owls are headed to the dance.