The 15th-seeded Golden Eagles pulled off the first big surprise of the first NCAA tournament in two years, holding second-seed Big Ten, Ohio State 75-72 in overtime on Friday.
Oral Roberts got impeccable performances from his two star players, guard Max Abmas and forward Kevin Obanor, to become the ninth of 15 seeds to win a first-round match and the first since Middle Tennessee shocked the State of Michigan in 2016. Last year’s tournament was canceled due to the pandemic.
Obanor scored seven of Oral Roberts’ 11 points in overtime, including two free throws with 13 seconds remaining, and finished with 30 points and 11 rebounds. Abmas, the country’s top scorer, had 29 points.
Ohio State could have tied in the dying seconds of overtime, but Duane Washington Jr.’s 3-point open pointer immediately bounced off the side of the rim, and Oral Roberts celebrated his first tournament win. since 1974.
The Golden Eagles (17-10) qualified to face seventh-seeded Florida in the Southern Region on Sunday.
EJ Liddell scored 23 points to lead the Buckeyes (21-10). Washington scored 18 but only managed 7 of 21 shots.
Oral Roberts scored the first seven points of the game, including a 3 point by Abmas of the logo that drew a collective “Ooooh” from the socially distant crowd.
The Buckeyes led by eight before the Golden Eagles rallied. Abmas hit a 3-point with about five minutes left in the first half to give Oral Roberts a 26-25 lead, prompting a chant of “ORU!” From fans who traveled to support the small Christian school based in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He struck again 3 moments later to force a time out in Ohio state.
Abmas scored 5 of 7 3 points in the first half and collected 18 points at the break as the Golden Eagles led 36-33.
The Summit League champions led by seven in the second half before Ohio State rallied to take a 60-58 lead over a CJ Walker pull-up with just under five minutes to go.
Obanor was fouled with 14 seconds left, and he made both free throws to tie the game at 64. Washington missed a back jumper in the closing seconds.
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