D.J. Cooper finished with 19 points, seven assists and six rebounds
March 18, 2012
Final Stats | Photo Gallery
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Junior Walter Offutt scored a game-high 21 points to lead the Ohio University men's basketball team (29-7) past South Florida (22-14) 62-56 Sunday night at Bridgestone Arena and into the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Championship where it will face off against North Carolina.
Ohio's win over USF marked the second win in the NCAA tournament this year. The Bobcats have not won two games in the NCAA championship since the 1964 tournament when it defeated Louisville (71-69) and Kentucky (85-69) to advance to the Regional Final against Michigan.
The Bobcats are also the first No. 13 seed to advance to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament since Bradley did so in 2006.
With the win, Ohio makes its first Sweet 16 appearance in the NCAA Tournament since the field expanded to 64 teams. The Bobcats also became the first team from the Mid-American Conference to advance to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament since 2002.
This season Ohio holds a 6-0 mark in the month of March.
Offutt (Indianapolis, Ind.) connected on 7-of-9 from the field, including 4-for-4 from beyond the arc. He also had a game-high four steals. Junior guard D.J. Cooper (Chicago, Ill.) also played a major role on the offensive end as he scored 19 points and dished out a game-high seven steals. Cooper also pulled down team-best six rebounds.
The Bobcats were outrebounded 33-25, but limited Ohio held USF to just 13.3 percent shooting from beyond the arc. Ohio also held a slight edge in turnovers (9-10).
Ohio rallied back from a six-point halftime deficit, coming back to outscore the Bulls 41-29 in the second half. Ohio shot 50.0 percent from the field, including 62.5 percent from the beyond the arc. Three of Ohio's five second half 3-point field goals came from Offutt and two came from sophomore Nick Kellogg (Westerville, Ohio).
Ohio's second half rally marked just the third time this season it had come back to win after trailing at the half.
The Bobcats opened up the game with a 12-6 lead, but USF fought back with a 10-0 run to take a 16-12 lead. Ohio would not take the lead again until the 8:34 mark of the second half. At the 7:13 mark of the second half, Ohio re-claimed the lead for good thanks to Offutt's fourth 3-pointer of the second half.
Ohio went on to open up its largest lead of the game at the 2:34 mark of the second half, leading 56-48. Defensively, Ohio held USF to just two points over a five-minute span. The Bobcats would then hold on to secure the victory.