The No. 15 seed Oral Roberts men’s basketball team showed off on the national stage cutting down No. 2 Ohio State in overtime, 75-72, in NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship First Round action inside Mackey Arena.
The Golden Eagles led by as many as seven in the second half giving the Buckeyes fits all day with its dynamic duo as Kevin Obanor and Max Abmas combined to score 59 points posting 30 and 29 points, respectively, to pull off the upset over nationally-ranked OSU (No. 7 in AP Poll). It was ORU’s first top-10 win since defeating No. 8 Xavier in 2011 and first win at the NCAA Championship since 1974.
It was a dream start for ORU as Abmas got the No. 15 seed on the board first and moments later hit from distance jumping to a 7-0 lead on the Buckeyes. After OSU rattled off 10-straight points, it was another deep triple by Abmas that pulled the Golden Eagles even. The Buckeyes stretched their advantage to 19-13 before ORU got a dunk from DeShang Weaver to stop the run.
The Golden Eagles fell behind by eight with seven minutes in the half when Obanor took over the game connecting on a pair of 3-pointers along with a two-handed slam. The redshirt junior scored eight-straight ORU points pulling within two and Abmas drilled another long ball giving the Golden Eagles a 26-25 lead. Abmas wasn’t done yet as the nation’s leading scorer hit another 3-pointer and ORU pushed out to a seven-point cushion, 34-27, taking a 36-33 margin into the locker room.
The Buckeyes came out with a vengeance in the second stanza and regained a 37-36 lead before ORU countered scoring the next six points all coming from behind the arc by Obanor. The Golden Eagles extended their advantage to 49-42 as Carlos Jürgens came away with a mid-court steal and finished at the rim with 12:44 to play. Jürgens later added two free throws keeping ORU in front, 51-45.
It was a battle for the Golden Eagles to hold off a surging OSU squad and eventually had to overcome a four-point deficit in the final 2:34. ORU kept the Buckeyes from scoring during the stretch and Obanor calmly tallied the game’s final four points in regulation at the free-throw line, including the tying pair with 14 seconds to play sending the game into overtime, 64-64.
In the extra period, Obanor could not be stopped as he dominated the paint and scored five-straight points highlighted by an and-1 chance giving ORU a 69-64 edge. The Buckeyes closed the gap to one as the clock read 16 seconds, but it was Obanor that sealed the win at the line hitting twice more and the Golden Eagles celebrated the upset on the court, 75-72.
Facing a four-point deficit late in the second half, ORU fought for every possession and turned up the pressure defensively. The Golden Eagles did not allow the Buckeyes to score in the final 2:34 of regulation forcing their two best players into turnovers. That was all Obanor needed as he drove to the lane and drew contact securing free throws to tie the game and send it to overtime where he would not be denied.