Max Abmas, 15-Seed Oral Roberts Stun 2-Seed Ohio State for NCAA Tournament Upset

Jenna CiccotelliAnalyst IIMarch 19, 2021

Oral Roberts' Max Abmas (3) drives against Ohio State's CJ Walker (13) during the first half of a first round game in the NCAA men's college basketball tournament, Friday, March 19, 2021, at Mackey Arena in West Lafayette, Ind. (AP Photo/Robert Franklin)
Robert Franklin/Associated Press

The first upset of this year's NCAA men's tournament is in the books after No. 15 Oral Roberts knocked out No. 2 Ohio State with a 75-72 overtime victory in first-round play Friday.

NCAA March Madness @marchmadness


The Buckeyes looked like they would hold on for the win with a 64-60 advantage with 2:34 left to play, but Kevin Obanor sank four straight from the free-throw line to force overtime. In the extra period, a pair of free throws from the junior with 13 seconds left sealed the win. 

This marks the first upset for a No. 15 seed over a No. 2 seed since 2016, when Middle Tennessee led Michigan State for the entirety of a 90-81 victory. In 2019, No. 15 Colgate had a near-upset against No. 2 Tennessee but fell 77-70. 

FanDuel @FanDuel

Oral Roberts to everyone's bracket 🔥 https://t.co/1CAH5oTlNe

It is also the first victory for Oral Roberts in the NCAA tournament since 1974, when the Golden Eagles reached the Elite Eight. 

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Max Abmas is cold-blooded ORAL ROBERTS LEADS IN OVERTIME❗️ https://t.co/nALUbOFdhm

Obanor ended the day with a game-high 30 points, hitting nine of his 21 attempts from the field and going a perfect 7-of-7 from the line.

His teammate, Max Abmas, who leads the nation in points per game, dropped 29 points, hitting 10-of-24 from the field while going an impressive 50 percent (5-of-10) from deep for the Golden Eagles, who are now 17-10. 

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Max Abmas showing why he’s the nation’s top scorer vs. Ohio State — 18 PTS — 6-12 shooting — 5-6 3PT No. 15 Oral Roberts leads No. 2 Ohio State at half 👀 https://t.co/VoV37QsljB

E.J. Liddell posted a double-double with 23 points and 13 rebounds for the Buckeyes, who bowed out with a final record of 21-10. 

Both teams were neck-and-neck throughout the afternoon, with the Buckeyes never leading by more than eight and Oral Roberts once holding a seven-point lead. The difference came down to the free-throw line, where the Ohio State only hit nine of its 18 attempts compared to 14-of-18 for Oral Roberts.

Ohio State had vital misses from the line at the wire, and Duane Washington Jr. struggled offensively down the stretch. After making a jumper with 3:15 remaining in regulation, Washington missed three two-point attempts, three shots from beyond the arc and a pair of free throws, scoring just three more points on a jump shot and a free throw in overtime. 

Oral Roberts is now moving on to face the No. 7-seeded Florida Gators, which defeated No. 10 Virginia Tech in first-round play Friday.

Ohio State will look ahead to next season, when 4-star recruit Malaki Branham and 3-star power forward Kalen Etzler will join a group that could lose Liddell to the 2021 NBA draft.