North Carolina Escapes Ohio in OT, Advances to the Elite Eight

Samuel BensonContributor IIIMarch 23, 2012

ST. LOUIS, MO - MARCH 23:  Tyler Zeller #44 of the North Carolina Tar Heels grabs a rebound in the first half against Ivo Baltic #23 and Jon Smith #21 of the Ohio Bobcats during the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball Midwest Regional Semifinal at Edward Jones Dome on March 23, 2012 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

The University of North Carolina headed to St. Louis heavily favored against a 13-seeded Ohio team, but the Bobcats quickly sent the message that they were no one to be underestimated. UNC played without starting point guard Kendall Marshall, who suffered a broken wrist against Creighton. In his place, the Heels started freshman Stilman White.

Tyler Zeller led North Carolina with 20 points, 23 rebounds and 5 blocks. Reggie Bullock added 17 points. Ohio's Walter Offut finished with 26 points.

The Tar Heels threw the first punch, leading by as much as 15 in the first half. Ohio cut the lead to six, but trailed 22-27 at the half.

The Bobcats stormed back with a 8-2 run midway through the second half, and the game went back and forth from there. Ohio took the lead with 8:02 left and eventually extended that lead to four. With under a minute left, Reggie Bullock drained a trey to put the Heels up by two. On the next possession, Walter Offut of Ohio made a layup to tie the score. Offut narrowly missed a deep three seconds later to send the game into an extra period.

North Carolina quickly jumped on top in overtime with a 10-2 run and never looked back.

With the loss, the Bobcats ended their season with a 29-8 record, while the Tar Heels advanced to 32-5.

UNC will play in the Elite 8 against the winner of North Carolina State and Kansas on Sunday.