Ohio State Gets Knocked Out Of NCAA Tournament In 75-72 Loss To 15th-seeded Oral Roberts

By Colin Hass-Hill on March 19, 2021 at 5:20 pm
Justice Sueing
Joshua Bickel-USA TODAY Sports

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Max Abmas took a few dribbles forward, stopped his momentum, stepped back and launched. It might not have been the ultimate dagger, but it surely seemed like it might have felt that way to Ohio State.

The Abmas jumper put 15th-seeded Oral Roberts ahead of second-seeded Ohio State, 72-66 with 2:05 left in overtime. The Golden Eagles ultimately won, 75-72, after holding off a late push from the Buckeyes to pull off a first-round NCAA tournament upset on Friday.

Team 1 2 OT FINAL
#15 ORAL ROBERTS 36 28 11 75
#2 OHIO STATE 33 31 8 72

Duane Washington Jr.'s and-one floater closed the gap to three points with 1:09 left, and he drew another foul with 37.2 seconds left to go to the line. But there, he missed both free throws. Ohio State's next trip down the court, after Oral Roberts missed a free throw, Washington missed a layup. But E.J. Liddell drained a 3 with 16 seconds remaining to close the gap to a single points. The Golden Eagles subsequently got a pair of free throws from Kevin Obanor to put them up by three with 13 seconds left.

Oral Roberts, a team that finished a mere 16-10 with six losses in Summit League play, gave Ohio State just about everything it could handle for the duration of regulation. Limiting the Buckeyes' attack enough while firing up 3-pointers from several feet beyond the 3-point arc, the Golden Eagles led by two points with 4:41 left – and they had the advantage almost the entirety of the second half before then.

An 8-2 Ohio State run, with four different Buckeyes scoring, allowed the 16-point betting favorite to go ahead by four with 2:34 remaining. But without scoring a point in the last two and a half minutes, four made Oral Roberts foul shots tied it at 64-64. Duane Washington Jr.'s shot with just seconds to go that had a chance to win it fell short, sending the game into overtime.

Similarly to the middle of the first half, the Buckeyes opened the second half by grabbing a lead – going up one on an E.J. Liddell layup – but soon fell behind. Carlos Jurgens' fast-break layup put Oral Roberts on top by seven with 12:44 left. Yet a 12-4 Ohio State run put the second-seeded Buckeyes back up by a single point with 6:57 left, setting up a drama-filled ending.

72 POINTS 75
29-67 (43.3%) FGM-FGA (PCT.) 25-70 (35.7%)
5-23 (21.7%) 3PM-3PA (PCT.) 11-35 (31.4%)
9-18 (50.0%) FTM-FTA (PCT.) 14-18 (77.8%)

Right off the bat, it was apparent that this matchup between No. 2 and No. 15 seeds had a shot to be ultra-competitive.

The Golden Eagles jumped out to a 7-0 lead within the first 100 seconds with five points from Abmas. Ohio State seemingly settled down with Duane Washington Jr. scoring eight of the team's points on a subsequent 10-0 run to take the lead, and the advantage slowly grew. 

CJ Walker's pair of free throws up the Buckeyes on top, 23-15, after 11 minutes. But while their offense went cold for three scoreless minutes, Oral Roberts relocated its stroke after missing 14-of-15 shots at one point. Kevin Obanor drilled a 3 and threw down a dunk with six and a half minutes left to chop the deficit to three, and Abmas' third 3-pointer of the first half put the Golden Eagles ahead, 26-25 with five minutes to go until halftime. The went up by seven points on an Obanor layup with 2:44 left.

Ohio State couldn't completely close the gap, eventually entering the halftime while trailing, 36-33. Abmas led both teams with 18 first-half points. Washington had 11 points in the opening 20 minutes, pacing the Buckeyes yet failing to score a point in the final 15 minutes of the half.

Other Notes

  • Kyle Young (concussion) and Jimmy Sotos (separated shoulder) were unavailable to play in this game. There's not yet a timeline on whether or not Young will play next, but Sotos had surgery last month and is out for the year.
  • Chris Holtmann chose to use the same starting five he implemented in the last two games of the Big Ten tournament after Young got hurt: Duane Washington Jr., Justin Ahrens, Justice Sueing, Musa Jallow and E.J. Liddell. CJ Walker continued to come off the bench after asking Holtmann to do so before the conference tournament.
  • Washington became the 34th Ohio State player to reach 500 points in a single season. It's the 51st time this has happened. Keita Bates-Diop was the most recent to reach the mark with 672.
  • This was Ohio State's second-ever game at Mackey Arena when not playing against Purdue. It beat Iowa, 85-81, on March 12, 1968.
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