No. 15 seed Oral Roberts upsets Ohio State in men's NCAA Tournament first-round shocker

Scott Gleeson
USA TODAY

No. 15 seed Oral Roberts shocked No. 2 Ohio State 75-72 on Friday in the men's NCAA Tournament first round, becoming the first Cinderella of March Madness. 

The Golden Eagles' Kevin Obanor made two free throws with 13 seconds left in overtime to seal the win after he made two free throws with 14.9 seconds left to tie the game at 64 and force overtime.

"We just had the mindset of, ‘Show us that you deserve to be No. 2,' and we came out with a lot of confidence," Obanor said after the game. 

Oral Roberts becomes just the ninth No. 15 seed to knock out a No. 2, joining the likes of Middle Tennessee (2016) and Florida Gulf Coast (2013).

Sophomore guard Max Abmas – the nation's leading scorer – made key plays down the stretch to help the mid-major pull off the bracket-busting upset. 

"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."

Oral Roberts players celebrate after the upset.

Abmas fueled the Golden Eagles early on in the stunner, scoring 18 of his 29 points in the first half to help his team lead 36-33 and set the tone early on. Obanor gave Oral Roberts a backbone on the interior, finishing with 30 points and 11 rebounds. 

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. 

E.J. Liddell made a three-pointer to make it a one-point game late in overtime, but it wasn't enough. Liddell did his best to make up for a poor shooting night for the rest of the Buckeyes (OSU shot 22% from three-point range), pacing Ohio State with 23 points and 11 rebounds, while Duane Washington Jr. finished with 18 points. 

After trailing throughout much of the second half, Ohio State took a four-point lead with 2:30 remaining off a Liddell free throw, but Oral Roberts used the counter punch of its two stars in Abmas and Obanor. 

Abmas, the Summit League Player of the Year, shot 10-for-24 from the floor on Friday. He averages 24.2 points per game as one of the most potent scorers in the country.  The sophomore guard scored 41 points in a Feb. 27 win over Western Illinois and 42 points in a Feb. 13 win over South Dakota State. 

Contributing: The Associated Press

Follow college basketball reporter Scott Gleeson on Twitter @ScottMGleeson.