Cinderella marches on to the Sweet 16: 15-seed Oral Roberts downs Florida in Gators' collapse
Cinderella is going to the Sweet 16. 15-seed Oral Roberts pulled off its second major upset of the NCAA Tournament, downing 7-seed Florida 81-78 on Sunday.
Florida led by as much as 11 in the second half but free throws and turnovers allowed Oral Roberts to come back.
Oral Roberts’ Kevin Obanor and Max Abmas were the top two scorers of the game with 28 and 26 points. Tre Mann led the Gators’ scoring with 19 points.
The Gators lost despite shooting 55.2 percent from the field and winning the rebound battle 37-24. UF turned the ball over 20 times to Oral Roberts’ 12. Florida was 7-of-9 at the foul line while Oral Roberts made 19-of-23 free throws. The Golden Eagles shot 45.6 percent from the floor.
The Gators led 42-37 at the half and extended it to 54-43, their largest of the game, at the under-12 media timeout but Oral Roberts chipped away. The victors closed the game on a 25-11 run as Florida’s scoring cooled off at the worst time.
Oral Roberts retook the lead 77-76 at the 2:53 mark with a Kevin Obanor bucket, prompting a Mike White timeout.
Oral Roberts will meet Arkansas in the Sweet 16. The teams previously met on Dec. 20, 2020, with the Razorbacks winning 87-76. It is Oral Roberts’ second Sweet 16 appearance and first since 1974. ORU is the second-ever 15-seed to reach the Sweet 16, joining the 2013 Florida Gulf Coast team.
Florida finishes 15-10 for the 2020-21 campaign, which included pauses and missed games due to COVID and Keyontae Johnson’s collapse at Florida State.
The Gators can’t blame Saturday’s loss on being stretched thin. Both Tyree Appleby and Omar Payne were back for the Gators on Sunday. Appleby missed the majority of the second half Friday in UF’s win over Virginia Tech after taking an elbow that resulted in a facial laceration. Mike White opted to sit Omar Payne against the Hokies after his SEC Tournament for the flagrant foul on Tennessee’s John Fulkerson, giving the Vol a facial fracture sidelining him for the remainder of the conference tournament and UT’s NCAA Tournament game.