Ohio State will face a potentially dangerous No. 15 seed in Oral Roberts to begin the NCAA Tournament Friday afternoon. Here’s what you need to know about the high-flying Golden Eagles:
BATTLE TESTED: Oral Roberts will not be afraid of the Buckeyes, having already played non-conference road games this year against the likes of Missouri (L 91-64), Wichita State (L 85-80), Oklahoma State (L 83-78) and Oklahoma (L 79-65). While ORU didn’t win any of those games, they were competitive in three and will draw on those experiences.
NATION’S LEADING SCORER: Sophomore guard Max Abmas can fill it up despite standing just 6-foot-1 and weighing 165 pounds. He leads NCAA Division I with a healthy 24.2 points per game and might not come off the floor in this contest (averages over 36 minutes). He shoots 43 percent from long range and makes 90 percent of his free throws.
HOW THEY GOT HERE: The “do or die” mentality already started last week for Oral Roberts, which was the No. 4 seed in the Summit League Tournament before claiming three straight wins. They won a semifinal game (90-88) at the buzzer and then survived a missed layup by North Dakota State in the closing seconds of the title game. ORU led that contest 45-20 at halftime before relinquishing the entire lead.
KEVIN OBANOR: The 6-foot-8 post player complements Abmas nicely, averaging more than 18 points and nine rebounds while playing inside-out. He has made multiple three-pointers in eight of his last 10 games, and also had that tip-in to beat the buzzer in the conference semifinals. He’s always active, so don’t fall asleep.
HIGH SCORING TEAM: Oral Roberts is tied for 10th nationally as a team with 81.8 points per game. They have reached 90 eight times this season.
RECENT FINISHES: Oral Roberts was 17-14 last year after finishing with a disappointing 11-21 record back in 2018-19.
HEAD COACH: Paul Mills is in his fourth season at the helm after spending the previous 14 as an assistant at Baylor. He experienced four Sweet Sixteen’s with the Bears and a pair of Elite Eight appearances.
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