March 19 (UPI) — The 15th-seeded Oral Roberts Golden Eagles held off the No. 2 seed Ohio State Buckeyes 75-72 in overtime Friday in West Lafayette, Ind., to pull off the first major upset of this year’s NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
The victory was the Golden Eagles’ first in the NCAA tournament since 1974, when they were known as the Titans.
Oral Roberts became the ninth No. 15 seed to win a first-round tournament game since Middle Tennessee State University shocked the Michigan State Spartans in 2016.
“When they rank them, it was only just a number at the end of the day,” said Oral Roberts forward Kevin Obanor, who led the team with 30 points and 11 rebounds. “We put our shoes on just as the other team puts their shoes on.
“We just had the mindset of, ‘Show us that you deserve to be No. 2,’ and we came out with a lot of confidence.”
In ESPN’s Men’s Tournament Challenge, more than 95% of the brackets chose the Buckeyes to defeat Oral Roberts, who were 16-point underdogs. It was the biggest upset since UMBC’s first-round win over top-seeded Virginia in 2018 as a 20.5-point underdog.
Oral Roberts guard Max Abmas, the nation’s leading scorer, recorded 29 points, five rebounds and three assists to help the Golden Eagles advance to the second round.
“I want to first begin by giving Oral Roberts credit,” Ohio State head coach Chris Holtmann said. “I thought they really played well, as we expected they would. I thought their two players that obviously concerned us were terrific. So give them, their coaches, their players, their program, the university a lot of credit for this win.”
E.J. Liddell led the Buckeyes with 23 points and 14 rebounds. Duane Washington Jr. also had a double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds, and C.J. Walker added 12 points and six rebounds.
No. 13 seed North Texas and 12th-seeded Oregon State also earned upset wins in the first round of the NCAA tournament Friday. North Texas beat Purdue 78-69, while Oregon State picked up a 70-56 victory over Tennessee.
Illinois and Baylor, the first two No. 1 seeds to play in the first round, cruised to blowout wins Friday. Baylor dominated Hartford 79-55, and Illinois easily defeated Drexel 78-49.