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The Early Lead
Posted at 09:34 PM ET, 03/18/2012

Ohio tops South Florida to continue best NCAA tournament run since 1964

The Ohio Bobcats are quickly becoming a power conference nemesis.

Two years after taking out third-seeded Georgetown in a round-of-64 upset, the No. 13 Bobcats knocked off third-seeded Michigan on Friday. And facing another Big East team on Sunday in South Florida — albeit a No. 12 seed — Ohio sent another power conference team packing.

Ohio slugged it out with the Bulls, whose physical style helped them upend Temple on Friday, and fended off a late run to advance with a 62-56 win in Nashville.

The Bobcats had not won consecutive tournament games since 1964 when they won twice to advance to the region final, where they fell to Michigan. They will face top-seeded North Carolina on Friday in St. Louis.

In the first of two Sunday evening matchups featuring two double-digit seeds, the Bulls took used their physical defensive play to hold Ohio to 21 first-half points and went into the locker room with a six-point advantage.

But the Bobcats used a 10-run to push a two-point lead to a 54-46 advantage with three minutes left. South Florida pulled to within three on Toarlyn Fitzpatrick’s three-pointer in the final minute, but D.J. Cooper made three of four free throws to seal the victory.

Walter Offutt led the Bobcats with 21 points and hit all four of his three-point attemps as Ohio made nine of its 15 shots from beyond the arc. Cooper added 19 points and seven assists for Ohio, which is the first Mid-American Conference team to reach the Sweet 16 since Kent State advanced to the Elite Eight in 2002.

Victor Rudd, Jr. and Anthony Collins each finished with 13 points for the Bulls who had held 12 consecutive opponents below 60 points.

Box score: South Florida 62, Ohio 56

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By  |  09:34 PM ET, 03/18/2012

 
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