Tar Heels survive in OT to beat Ohio
St. Louis, MO (Sports Network) - Tyler Zeller had 20 points and 22 rebounds and North Carolina escaped with a 73-65 overtime win over Ohio in the Midwest Region semifinals of the NCAA Tournament.
Reggie Bullock added 17 points and John Henson had 14 for the top-seeded Tar Heels (32-5), who outscored Ohio 10-2 in overtime. Starting point guard Kendall Marshall did not play due to a wrist injury which he suffered in a third-round win over Creighton.
North Carolina has won 11 consecutive Sweet 16 games and advanced to play second-seeded Kansas in Sunday's regional final.
"Obviously, we're extremely pleased," said North Carolina coach Roy Williams. "Feel lucky, but we did make some plays down the stretch and I was very proud of our guys. We feel like we were in a battle. I feel like I've been in a battle. Our players feel like that."
Walter Offutt scored 26 points to pace Ohio and made a tying layup with 26 seconds left in regulation. He was fouled on the play, but missed the go-ahead free throw. The 13th-seeded Bobcats (29-8) were seeking the first Elite Eight appearance in program history.
Ohio trailed 37-27 early in the second half when Offutt hit consecutive three-pointers, and T.J. Hall made it three straight after a Zeller turnover to swing momentum.
The Bobcats took their first lead of the game minutes later when Offutt came up with a steal, penetrated and found Nick Kellogg for an open three and a 47-46 advantage.
The back-and-forth play continued and Ohio was up 61-60 in the final minute when D.J. Cooper drove to the hoop, looking to extend the lead. Instead he missed a layup, then stayed near the basket holding his hand over his eye as North Carolina pushed the ball upcourt and Bullock knocked down a go-ahead three.
"I feel like I got fouled, but they didn't call it," said Cooper. "I could have got back on defense. Like I said, they just came down and stepped up and hit a big shot."
Offutt responded, tying the game at 63 with a contested baseline layup. He drew the foul, but was off on the free throw. Out of a timeout, Barnes was blocked with six seconds remaining and Offutt's half-court heave drew iron at the buzzer.
"As a leader on this team, I take responsibility that I got to hit that free throw," said Offutt. "Obviously, it didn't come down to some other things that we could have done well. But it just feels terrible to kind of let my team down in that sort of way."
The Tar Heels controlled the action in overtime. Bullock opened with a three and Barnes followed with a jumper for a 68-63 lead. Kellogg made a pair of free throws with 1:34 left but Barnes drew a foul on the next North Carolina possession and made a pair.
Hall then missed a three-pointer with under a minute to go and Ohio was forced to foul. The Tar Heels made 3-of-4 free throws the rest of the way to seal the win.
North Carolina also started the game strong, jumping out to a double-digit lead before Ohio closed the first half on an 11-3 run to trail 29-22 at the break.
The Tar Heels improved to 25-6 all-time in Sweet 16 games...They are 6-0 in Sweet 16 games under Williams...Marshall suffered a broken scaphoid bone in his right wrist against Creighton and underwent successful surgery on Monday...The Bobcats were making their 13th NCAA Tournament appearance.
03/24 01:00:10 ET