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Friday's NCAAs: Oral Roberts shocks Ohio State, first big upset of Tournament

Cliff Brunt
Associated Press

West Lafayette, Ind. — Ohio State’s players were dancing around in the moments before tipoff against Oral Roberts, relaxed and full of swagger.

The Buckeyes aren’t dancing anymore. The 15th-seeded Golden Eagles pulled off the first major upset of the first NCAA Tournament in two years, holding off second-seeded Ohio State 75-72 in overtime on Friday.

Oral Roberts players celebrate after beating Ohio State in a first-round game in the NCAA Tournament on Friday at Mackey Arena in West Lafayette, Ind.

“When they rank them, it was only just a number at the end of the day,” said Kevin Obanor, who led Oral Roberts with 30 points and 11 rebounds. “We put our shoes on just as the other team puts their shoes on. We just had the mindset of, ‘Show us that you deserve to be No. 2,’ and we came out with a lot of confidence.”

Oral Roberts got poised, impeccable performances from its two stars, Obanor and guard Max Abmas, to become the ninth 15 seed to win a first-round game and the first since Middle Tennessee shocked Michigan State in 2016. Last year’s tournament was called off because of the pandemic.

More:NCAA Men's Tournament scoreboard, schedule

Obanor scored seven of Oral Roberts’ 11 points in overtime, including two free throws with 13 seconds left. Abmas, the nation’s leading scorer, had 29 points.

“Their two players that obviously concerned us were terrific, so give them, their coaches, their players, their program, their university a lot of credit for this win,” Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann said. “We had no illusions that this was going to be by any stretch anything other than a really challenging game, and it obviously was that from the very jump.”

Ohio State could have tied it in the closing seconds of overtime, but Duane Washington Jr.’s open 3-pointer from straight away bounced off the side of the rim, and Oral Roberts celebrated its first tournament win since 1974.

The Golden Eagles’ roster is full of lightly recruited players who found their way to the small, private Christian school in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The Summit League champions bowed their heads in a prayer circle after their victory over the Big Ten power.

“I know growing up, all my life, I was always like the underdog,” Obanor said. “The school is not a big school. Just to prove people wrong, it’s a blessing just to have people that are really committed and believe that we’re the better team.”

The Golden Eagles (17-10) will play seventh-seeded Florida in the South Region on Sunday.

E.J. Liddell had 23 points and 14 rebounds to lead the Buckeyes (21-10). Washington had 18 points and 10 rebounds but made just 7 of 21 shots.

Oral Roberts scored the game’s first seven points, including a 3-pointer by Abmas from the logo that drew a collective “Ooooh!” from the socially distanced crowd.

The Buckeyes led by eight before the Golden Eagles rallied. Abmas hit a 3-pointer with about five minutes left in the first half to give Oral Roberts a 26-25 lead, prompting a chant of “O-R-U!” He hit another 3 moments later to force an Ohio State timeout. He made 5 of 7 3-pointers in the first half and had 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 on a pullup jumper by CJ Walker with just under five minutes to play.

Obanor was fouled with 14 seconds to play, and he made both free throws to tie the game at 64. Washington missed a step-back jumper in the closing seconds, and the Buckeyes had no answer for Obanor in the extra session.

“This is obviously a really, really bitter end to a terrific season,” Holtmann said. “We’ll own that and accept it and we’ll move forward.”

More NCAA Tournament games

►Florida 75, Virginia Tech 70: In Indianapolis, Colin Castleton scored 19 points and grabbed 14 rebounds, Tre Mann hit a step-back 3-pointer with 23 seconds left in overtime and seventh-seeded Florida held off No. 10 seed Virginia Tech.

Florida was cheered on by Keyontae Johnson, who has supported and inspired his teammates from the bench since his return from a scary medical episode. Johnson collapsed on the court during a game in December and was forced to sit out the rest of the season.

Castleton was dominant on the inside and Mann showed up with a pair of key 3-pointers late for the Gators (15-9).

Mann hit a 3 with 2:49 left in regulation, a shot that became huge as Virginia Tech rallied in the closing seconds and forced overtime on Nahiem Alleyne’s 3-pointer with 1.4 seconds left. Mann’s second big 3-pointer gave the Gators a 74-70 lead and proved enough after Cordell Pemsel’s missed jumper with 10 seconds left.

Mann, an all-SEC performer, finished with 14 points. Scottie Lewis added 15 for the Gators.

Alleyne was brilliant for the Hokies (15-7) through regulation but was held to just one basket in overtime. He finished with 30 points and scored the final 12 of regulation for Virginia Tech.

►Baylor 79, Hartford 55: In Indianapolis, MaCio Teague scored 22 points and top-seeded Baylor shook off a slow-as-molasses start to roll past 16th-seeded Hartford.

Baylor opened its March Madness run at the same stadium the Final Four will take place in during the first week of April. The Bears (23-2) will next face Wisconsin.

Teague went 4 for 8 from 3-point range, Davion Mitchell scored 12 points and the Bears did what 1s do to 16s — slowly overpowered them with waves of talent.

Austin Williams scored 19 points to lead the Hawks (15-9).

►Wisconsin 85, North Carolina 62: In West Lafayette, Ind., North Carolina coach Roy Williams lost his first opening-round NCAA Tournament game in 30 tries as ninth-seeded Wisconsin blew out his eighth-seeded Tar Heels.

Brad Davison scored 29 points for the Badgers, who negated North Carolina’s size advantage by draining 13 of 27 3-pointers. The Badgers (18-12) had lost four of five entering the tournament.

Davison made 5 of 7 3-pointers and 10 of 15 shots overall. D’Mitrik Trice scored 21 points for Wisconsin.

Although Williams had won all 14 of his first-round games with Kansas and his first 15 with UNC, the loss by this uneven Tar Heels team was hardly a shock. North Carolina came in on a three-game winning streak but did not win four in a row all season.

Armando Bacot scored 15 points for UNC (18-11).

►Villanova 73, Winthrop 63: In Indianapolis, Jeremiah Robinson-Earl had 22 points and 12 rebounds, and fifth-seeded Villanova pulled away in the second half for a victory over 12th-seeded Winthrop.

Villanova (17-6) had lost both games since senior point guard and Big East co-player of the year Collin Gillespie tore a ligament in his left knee during the Wildcats’ victory over then-No. 14 Creighton on March 3. That made Winthrop, which came in with just one loss this season, a popular upset pick.

But Robinson-Earl delivered when the Wildcats needed him, making four free throws that launched a 9-0 run to give Villanova its biggest lead at 60-47. The Wildcats will face 13th-seeded North Texas in the second round on Sunday.

D.J. Burns Jr. led Winthrop (23-2) with 12 points.

►North Texas 78, Purdue 69: In Indianapolis, Jason Hamlet scored 24 points and Thomas Bell had 16, along with some game-changing defense in overtime, to lift 13th-seeded North Texas past No. 4 seed Purdue.

Hamlet and Bell led the Mean Green (18-9) to a regular-season Conference USA title last year but missed a chance at the tournament when the season was canceled by COVID-19.

They made sure things kept going this time. North Texas will face Villanova in the second round.

Bell opened overtime with a 3, then altered two Purdue shots underneath to help the Mean Green turn the extra session into a laugh. North Texas scored the first 11 points.

Hamlet did most of his damage during a pair of sublime 8-0 personal runs in the second half, each of which stopped the Purdue momentum in its tracks.

Freshman Jaden Ivey finished with a career-high 26 points to almost single-handedly keep the Boilermakers (18-10) in the game.

►Arkansas 85, Colgate 68: In Indianapolis, Justin Smith had 29 points and 13 rebounds, and Arkansas shut down high-scoring Colgate.

The 14th-seeded Raiders (14-2) had upset pickers out of their seats early with a slew of 3-pointers and a 16-2 run to go up by 14. The No. 3 Razorbacks (23-6) restored some bracket order with a 19-0 run spanning halftime and scored 10 straight points late to pull away. Arkansas advanced to face sixth-seeded Texas Tech in the second round.

Arkansas’ defense became the deciding factor.

The Razorbacks scored 34 points off Colgate’s 22 turnovers. Arkansas forced five turnovers during the decisive run, holding Colgate without a field goal for more than six minutes to turn a close game into a 13-point lead.

Nelly Cummings led Colgate with 14 points.

►Texas Tech 65, Utah State 53: In Bloomington, Ind., Mac McClung scored 16 points in his first NCAA Tournament game and Kyler Edwards added 12 to help sixth-seeded Texas Tech pull away from 11th-seeded Utah State.

The Red Raiders (18-10) snapped a two-game losing streak and made new memories in the tournament after their most recent appearance, a loss to Virginia in the 2019 national championship game.

Neemias Queta had 11 points, 13 rebounds and six assists, and tied Utah State’s single-game school record with seven blocks. Justin Bean had 13 points and eight rebounds for the Aggies (20-9), who lost their final two games.

Kevin McCullar had 10 points and seven rebounds for Texas Tech.


►Illinois 78, Drexel 49: In Indianapolis, Kofi Cockburn muscled his way to 18 points and Illinois cruised past 16th-seeded Drexel in the Illini’s first game as a No. 1 seed in 16 years.

Illinois (23-6) will face eighth-seeded Loyola Chicago in the second round of the Midwest Region on Sunday.

Drexel (12-8) never really had chance at containing the 7-foot, 285-pound Cockburn, who was 8 for 11 from the field.

James Butler — 6-8 and 242 pounds — drew the daunting task of trying to handle Cockburn, without much success. The senior did have 10 points and 10 rebounds for Drexel.

All-American Ayo Dosunmu finished with 17 points for Illinois.

►Loyola Chicago 71, Georgia Tech 60: In Indianapolis, Lucas Williamson scored 21 points in a dynamic performance by the defensive whiz, All-America forward Cameron Krutwig added 10, and eighth-seeded Loyola Chicago beat No. 9 seed Georgia Tech.

The surprise national semifinalist in 2018, the Ramblers (25-4) were relegated to the NIT the following year and missed out on the tournament — along with everyone else — when it was canceled due to COVID-19 last season.

After trailing 43-40 midway through the second half, Loyola heated up from beyond the arc and clamped down on defense, forcing Georgia Tech (17-9) into a series of missed shots and ugly turnovers during the decisive final five minutes.

Buddy Norris also had 16 points for the Ramblers, who went 11 of 27 from beyond the arc and shot 47% from the field overall.

Jordan Usher scored 15 points, Michael Devoe had 14 and Jose Alvarado 13 for the Yellow Jackets, who were forced to play without ACC player of the year Moses Wright after the big man tested positive for COVID-19.

►Oregon State 70, Tennessee 56: In Indianapolis, Roman Silva scored 16 points and 12th-seeded Oregon State took advantage of Tennessee’s icy perimeter shooting to beat the fifth-seeded Vols.

Oregon State (18-12) became the 51st 12 seed to take down a five seed since the NCAA Tournament bracket expanded in 1985.

The 7-foot-1 Silva bulled his way through the Vols for an 8-for-8 night. Oregon State hit seven 3s in the second half to win its first NCAA Tournament game since reaching the 1982 Elite Eight.

Oregon State moves on to face Oklahoma State on Sunday.

Keon Johnson led the short-handed Vols (18-9) with 14 points. Tennessee’s John Fulkerson was out with a facial fracture and concussion caused by a pair of elbows from Florida’s Omar Payne in the SEC Tournament.

►Oklahoma State 69, Liberty 60: In Indianapolis, Cade Cunningham didn’t have an explosive debut, but did just enough to lead Oklahoma State past Liberty.

Cunningham scored 15 points — nine straight in the final minutes — as No. 4 seed Oklahoma State won its first NCAA Tournament game since 2009. Avery Anderson III led the Cowboys with 21 points.

Cunningham, the Big 12 Conference player of the year, struggled for most his debut until his late surge gave OSU (21-8) breathing room against the stubborn Flames (23-6).

Elijah Cuffee had 16 points and Darius McGhee scored 12 for Atlantic Sun champion Liberty, which had won its previous 12 games.

►Syracuse 78, San Diego State 62: In Indianapolis, No. 11 seed Syracuse held sixth-seeded San Diego State without a field goal for nearly a quarter of the game, sweet-shooting Buddy Boeheim hit seven 3-pointers and finished with 30 points, and the Orange cruised into the second round.

Boeheim finished 7 of 10 from beyond the arc and 11 of 15 from the field, and Marek Dolezaj added 11 points as Syracuse (17-9) advanced to play third-seeded West Virginia for a spot in the Sweet 16.

The Orange were trailing 18-14 midway through the first half when they clamped down on defense, holding San Diego State (23-5) without a field goal the rest of the half.

Jordan Schakel had 17 points for the Aztecs, but the nation’s third-best 3-point shooter was just 5 of 13 from beyond the arc. Leading scorer Matt Mitchell also had 17 points on 8-of-19 shooting for the Mountain West champs.

West Virginia 84, Morehead State 67: In Indianapolis, Miles McBride scored 18 of his 30 points after halftime to help West Virginia pull away from Morehead State, giving coach Bob Huggins his 900th career victory.

McBride was terrific from the start for the third-seeded Mountaineers (19-9) in the Midwest Region matchup. The 6-foot-2 sophomore made his first five shots and finished 11 for 17 from the floor with six rebounds and six assists.

Morehead State (23-8) shot 52% and made 10 of 19 3-pointers. But the Ohio Valley Conference champions committed 18 turnovers that the Mountaineers converted into 24 points.

DeVon Cooper scored 21 points to lead the 14th-seeded Eagles, who were making their first tournament appearance in a decade.

►Rutgers 60, Clemson 56: In Indianapolis, Geo Baker scored 13 points, including the decisive layup with 10 seconds left, and 10th-seeded Rutgers beat No. 7 seed Clemson for its first NCAA Tournament victory in 38 years.

Rutgers (16-11) was last selected for the NCAAs in 1991, an appearance that ended with a first-round loss to Arizona State. The Scarlet Knights’ last victory in the tournament came in 1983 against a school that’s since changed its name from Southwest Louisiana to just Louisiana.

The drought is over for Rutgers, which will face No. 2 seed Houston on Sunday.

Jacob Young and Caleb McConnell both scored 13 points and Ron Harper Jr. had 10. Baker scored the final five points for Rutgers after the Scarlet Knights built an 11-point lead and nearly gave it all away.

Aamir Sims led Clemson (16-8) with 15 points.

►Houston 87, Cleveland State 56: In Bloomington, Ind., Quentin Grimes scored 18 points and Houston coach Kelvin Sampson tied John Wooden on the career victories list as the Cougars beat 15th-seeded Cleveland State.

Sampson earned his 664th win, No. 38 all-time, in his first game at Assembly Hall since resigning as Indiana’s coach in February 2008.

No. 2-seed Houston has won eight straight and will face 10th-seeded Rutgers in the second round on Sunday. It’s unclear if starting guard DeJon Jarreau will be available after he missed all but 41 seconds with what appeared to be a right hip injury.

Tramon Mark added 15 points in place of Jarreau and Marcus Sasser finished with 14 for Houston (25-3).

D’Moi Hodge scored 11 points and Torrey Patton had eight points and eight rebounds for the Vikings (19-9).