Oh yeah, OU has made it that far before.
The 1964 team of Don Hilt, Jerry Jackson and then-coach Jim Snyder lost to Michigan in the Mideast Regional final — long before the days of Nick Kellogg, Walter Offutt and D.J. Cooper.
And in 2012, Kellogg, Offutt and Cooper led Ohio to a 65-60 upset against No. 4-seeded Michigan in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. It was suitable revenge against the school that halted Ohio’s Elite Eight run nearly 50 years earlier and the sports moment judged the greatest in school history.
Cooper, a junior guard, posted 21 points and five assists. He led four OU players in double figures, including Offutt with 11, Ivo Baltic with 10 and Reggie Keely with 10.
“Coach always (says) big time players step up in big games, and I consider myself a pretty good player,” Cooper told Cleveland.com.
Skilled but not overly athletic, Michigan was the perfect foil for the smaller and faster Bobcats.
“We were humble, but we were also excited for our draw,” Cooper said. “We felt we could compete. We like the whole bracket that we got.”
The Bobcats took an early 7-4 lead before the Wolverines responded with back-to-back hoops for a 9-7 advantage. The Bobcats, however, found a soft spot in the Wolverines’ defense, scoring four straight baskets inside to take a 15-11 lead. Michigan would not get the upper hand the rest of the night.
The big difference was on the boards, according to game accounts, where OU had an 8-5 edge. As the first half wound down, the Bobcats went on a 12-4 run to turn an 18-17 deficit into a 29-22 lead.
A pair of 3-pointers were key, including one from Kellogg that forced the Wolverines into a timeout with 5:14 before the break. Two misses and a turnover by the Wolverines led to a wild 3-point attempt by Cooper, who was bailed out on the play by a Michigan foul. He knocked down all three free throws, extending the run to 15-4 and the lead to 32-22.
Following a media timeout, Kellogg struck again from long range to make it 35-22. It took a Trey Burke steal and layup to stop a five-minute scoring drought for the Wolverines.
This was soon followed by a Wolverines 3-pointer, forcing the Bobcats to call a timeout. But now it was Michigan with the hot hand as a Wolverines tip-in cut the lead to 35-29 by halftime.
The game stayed close through the second half. Needing a 3-pointer to tie, the Wolverines missed their last five shots inside the final 2:52. With seven seconds to play, Evan Smotrycz had the last of Michigan’s 10 turnovers, which led to Offutt’s game-clinching free throws.
The No. 13-seeded Bobcats had quite the season, winning the Mid-American Conference tournament and a program-record 28 victories. They would continue their winning with a victory over South Florida before losing in the Sweet 16 to Roy Williams and a North Carolina squad led by Harrison Barnes.
It was the last time Ohio played in the NCAA Tournament.
On the cover and above: Walter Offutt celebrates Ohio’s 65-60 victory against Michigan Wolverines during the second round of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament on March 16, 2012 in Nashville, Tenn. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
THIS WEEK’S GREATEST MOMENTS
• Monday: Northern Michigan and North Texas
• Tuesday: Northwestern State and Oakland
• Wednesday: Ohio and Old Dominion
• Thursday: Penn and Presbyterian
• Friday: Princeton and Providence