Men’s Basketball: UNC Always Had An Answer< < Back to
Sir Isaac Newton's Third Law of Motion states for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. That couldn't have been more true in the final four minutes of Ohio's game against North Carolina on Friday night.
Ohio led 57-53 with 3:49 left to an Elite 8 berth. A four- or six-point run could have potentially put the game out of reach and put the Bobcats into history as the first-ever 13 seed to make it to a regional final.
But Ohio never made that run. For every basket the Bobcats buried, the Tar Heels answered.
Dj Cooper stole the ball away from Tyler Zeller with up four points with 3:35 remaining in the game. Cooper was off to the races with John Henson trailing. Henson caught up and blocked Cooper's layup.
Harrison Barnes was fouled nine seconds later, made his first free throw, but missed the second. UNC gobbled up one of its 22 offensive rebounds, Barnes kicked it to Reggie Bullock, Bullock passed it back to Barnes who was behind the arc at this point and the Tar Heel forward buried his trey.
57-57 with 3:22 left. A four-point lead erased in 27 seconds.
Walter Offutt gave the lead back to the 'Cats on a wide-open layup off of a slick pass from Ivo Baltic.
Ohio led 59-57 with 2:55 to play.
UNC answered right back on its next possession. Bullock found John Henson open from the elbow. Henson rose and fired and found nothing but the bottom of the net.
Tie ball game. 2:36 to play.
Tyler Zeller, who was an animal in the paint, grabbed a board off of Cooper's missed three pointer and was fouled by T.J. Hall.
Zeller missed the first of his two free throws, then made the second putting the Tar Heels back on top 60-59 with 2:01 to play.
Ivo Baltic provided the answer for the 'Cats with probably his best shot of the tournament. A full-speed, spin around, fade away jumper gave Baltic his second field goal of the night and more importantly gave Ohio a one-point lead with 1:42 to play.
Barnes missed a three pointer on the other end for UNC, Cooper missed a driving layup attempt for the Bobcats. Cooper appeared to be hit in the eye or face because he stayed behind on the other end for a while. Bullock nailed an open three as Cooper came back down the floor to put the Heels up 63-61 with 40 seconds left.
Ohio went up by one. UNC responded with a three to to go up two.
Offutt would tie the game on Ohio's final possession on a hoop and harm, but missed his free throw. He redeemed himself on the defensive end by stripping Barnes with seconds left, but UNC beat Ohio 10-2 in overtime to advance to the Elite Eight.
A four-point Ohio lead disappeared in 27 seconds.
The 'Cats next advantage vanished in 19.
The 13th-seeded Bobcats' last lead over basketball powerhouse and the top-seeded Tar Heels lasted 62 seconds until Bullock netted UNC's final points of regulation.
Now thousands of Bobcat faithful are left to wonder "what if."
North Carolina answered every challenge, and it shouldn't be a surprise.
"That's what good programs and good teams do," Cooper said. "They respond to runs. We responded to their run when they had us down 13 points in the first half, and they did the same thing to us in the second half when we was up four or five points with a few minutes left."
"They pushed it hard in transition and got some threes out of it." Offutt said in the locker room, of the Tar Heels persistant responses.
Ohio forward Jon Smith shared a similar tune as Cooper. "They're a good team, a really good offensive team they have a lot of offensive weapons. so they're going to hit shots."
Ohio couldn't string together that one run, that one stretch to put the game out of reach and will now watch the rest of the tournament back home in Athens.
For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.
The Tar Heels had enough reactions to keep it close, and one more to pull away in overtime.