Oral Roberts stuns Florida, makes NCAA history as second-ever 15 seed in Sweet 16

Jason Owens
·2 min read

For most of the second half Sunday, Florida held Oral Roberts and NCAA history at bay.

But the Golden Eagles would not be denied, riding a late 9-2 run to take a late 77-76 lead and stun No. 7 seed Florida in a 81-78 win.

With the victory, Oral Roberts joins the 2013 Florida Gulf Coast as the second No. 15 seed in men's NCAA tournament history to advance to the Sweet 16. The win follows up ORU's stunning victory over No. 2 seed Ohio State in Friday's first round.

Oral Roberts advances to take on No. 3 seed Arkansas in next weekend's third round. It does so in its first NCAA tournament appearance since 2008.

Max Abmas #3, Kevin Obanor #0 and Kareem Thompson #2 of the Oral Roberts Golden Eagles celebrate after defeating the Florida Gators in the second round game of the 2021 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Indiana Farmers Coliseum on March 21, 2021 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Oral Roberts defeated Florida 81-78. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Add another upset to a wild opening weekend of NCAA tournament play. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Florida appeared in control, but ...

The Golden Eagles played the Gators tight from the tip before Florida ended the first half on an 8-2 run for a 42-37 halftime lead. Florida extended the margin to as much as 10 points at 59-49, appearing in control, but unable to put the underdogs away.

Oral Roberts made Florida pay with a late run capped by a DeShang Weaver 3-pointer that gave the Golden Eagles an 80-78 lead. A Kevin Obanor free throw extended the lead to the game's final margin before Florida's frantic last-ditch effort came up short.

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Oral Roberts wins game at the free throw line

Oral Roberts pulled off the upset despite allowing Florida to shoot 55.2% from the field and losing the rebounding battle, 37-24. It made up the difference on the free throw line where ORU connected on 19 of 23 attempts (82.6%). Florida attempted only nine free throws, making seven.

Sophomore guard Max Abmas, the nation's leading scorer at 24.4 points per game, had another big game with 26 points and seven assists. He hit all 12 of his free throw attempts. Obanor one-upped him in the scoring column, tallying 28 points and 11 rebounds.

The Gators saw four players score in double figures, led by sophomore guard Tre Mann's 19 points. Junior forward Colin Castleton followed up a big effort in Friday's first-round win over Virginia Tech with 14 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks, effectively exploiting his three-inch height advantage at 6-11 over the tallest Oral Roberts starter.

It just wasn't enough to overcome the discrepancy at the foul line. Officials whistled Florida for 19 personal fouls and Oral Roberts for 11. So the Gators are going home. And Oral Roberts joins Syracuse as the second double-digit seed to punch its ticket to the Sweet 16.

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