Entering Friday, eight No. 15 seeds had beaten No. 2 seeds in the NCAA Men’s Tournament.
Maybe that’s why Oral Roberts coach Paul Mills told his team before the game: “Don’t let anyone put a number before your name.”
As it turns out, Oral Roberts upset Ohio State in overtime on Friday afternoon, 75-72. The country’s leading scorer, Max Abmas scored 29. Kevin Obanar scored 30, picking up a double-double in the school’s biggest victory ever.
The Golden Eagles came out of the gates firing, scoring the first seven points of the game. Ohio State then responded with 10 straight, and it looked like the Buckeyes would coast from there.
“We had no illusions that this was going to be anything other than a really challenging game,” Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann said. “And it obviously was that from the very jump.”
Oral Roberts would get back up by as many as seven points in the first half, holding a 36-33 lead at the break. Ohio State struggled from three, and that was the trend for the rest of the day. The Buckeyes shot 5-23 from three in comparison to ORU’s 11-35. They also struggled from the line, shooting 9-18 on the day.
Meanwhile, Abmas was electric.
Uhhhh... Oral Roberts is up on Ohio State pic.twitter.com/fnMt6Q1gEY— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) March 19, 2021
Out of the break, the Golden Eagles again went up by as many as seven, but the Buckeyes kept fighting back. They regained the lead in the final minutes, but a costly turnover sent Obanor to the line to tie it up. Ohio State had 15 of those on the day in comparison to Oral Roberts’ six.
The game was tied at 64 headed into overtime. Normally, dogs go to die in overtime. Not Oral Roberts.
The Golden Eagles scored the first five, taking a 69-64 lead. They led throughout, as Ohio State couldn’t hit its last couple shots.
Max Abmas is cold-blooded— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) March 19, 2021
ORAL ROBERTS LEADS IN OVERTIME❗️ pic.twitter.com/nALUbOFdhm
Obanor hit two at the line to finish up the game and close out ORU’s first NCAA Tournament win since 1974.
“I thought we would win,” Mills said. “Our guys thought we would win.”
Oral Roberts will have a chance to make its first Sweet 16 since 1974 with a victory over Florida on Sunday. Only one 15 seed has done so before: Florida Gulf Coast in 2013