Trailing 43-35 in the second half, the Bulldogs (3-6) mounted an 11-0 run sparked by a Michael Bradley jumper to retake the lead and then battled to protect it down the stretch. Jordan Capps also reached double digits, scoring 12 points and hauling in nine rebounds.
Kentucky State, an NCAA Division II team, hit 10 of its 19 shots from beyond the arc to keep the game close but finished just 40 percent from field overall. With the score tied at 35 at the break, the Thorobreds opened the second half with an 8-0 run but were unable to hold off the Samford comeback.
Darquell Pulliam led Kentucky State with 21 points and seven rebounds, while Ulysses Thomas added 20 points.
Colorado State graduate transfer John Gillon has chosen Syracuse, giving the Orange a potential starter at point guard entering the 2016-17 season.
DeSean Murray, who averaged 20.2 points as a sophomore at Presbyterian, will transfer to Auburn to play for coach Bruce Pearl.
Former Kentucky guard Ed Davender, the only Wildcat with at least 1,500 points and 400 assists, has died. He was 49.