Oral Roberts knocks out Ohio State in first 2021 NCAA Tournament upset; players pray on court after win

The main entrance of Oral Roberts University.
The main entrance of Oral Roberts University.

In the first upset of the men’s NCAA Tournament, the evangelical Oral Roberts University beat second-seeded Ohio State University in overtime by a final of 75-72 on Friday. ORU’s leading scorer, forward Kevin Obanor, thanked Jesus after the win.

“I’m thankful to Jesus Christ for putting us in this position,” Obanor said, according to Fox 23. “We want it very bad. It’s bigger than us, just to leave a legacy behind for ORU. I’m just very eternally grateful and I just can’t wait to play tomorrow.”

Oral Roberts guard and the NCAA's leading scorer Max Abmas tallied 29 points, while Obanor turned in a 30-point, 11-rebound effort for the Golden Eagles in Friday's win. The Ohio State University’s team, the Buckeyes, shot just 5-23 from three, according to Sports Illustrated.

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Oral Roberts beat Ohio State
Oral Roberts beat Ohio State | Screenshot / Twitter, ORU

In ESPN’s Men's Tournament Challenge, more than 95% of the brackets (nearly 14 million) picked the Buckeyes, who were 16-point favorites, the sports channel reported. “It was the biggest upset since UMBC's first-round victory over top-seeded Virginia in 2018 as a plus-20.5 underdog and the eighth biggest since 1985,” it added.

The Golden Eagles, the Oklahoma-based ORU’s team, gathered on the court to pray together, a photo posted on Twitter showed.

On Sunday, Oral Roberts will face seven-seeded Florida in the second round.

ORU is the first No. 15 seed since 2016 to win a tournament game. In 2016, Middle Tennessee beat Michigan State.

ORU says on its website its mission is “to develop Holy Spirit-empowered leaders through whole person education to impact the world.”

ORU was founded by Oral Roberts in 1963. He died in 2009.

Over the course of more than six decades, Roberts conducted more than 300 healing crusades in more than 35 countries, wrote more than 130 books, and founded a number of different organizations, including the Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association.

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