Mar 18, 2012, 9:26 PM EST
The last time John Groce’s Bobcats had a chance to reach the Sweet 16, things didn’t go so well against Tennessee.
Ohio’s superb second half ensured that chance didn’t get away again.
The Bobcats (29-7) shook off South Florida’s stubborn defense for a 62-56 win Sunday in the Midwest Region and became the first 13 seed to reach the Sweet 16 since Bradley did it back in 2006. They’re the first Mid-American team to get this far since Kent State did it in 2002. (Coincidentally, the Golden Flashes coach was Stan Heath, who’s now at South Florida.)
The MAC tournament champs got 40 combined points from starts Walter Offutt and D.J. Cooper, who trailed 27-21 at halftime, but managed to find its stroke from beyond the arc (9 of 18) to surge ahead.
They also became the first team to score at least 60 points against the South Florida defense since Feb. 4.
The Bulls (22-14) were seeking their third straight NCAA tournament win. Wins against Cal and Temple placed the Big East’s most improbable entrant in the round of 32, a place Connecticut, Notre Dame and West Virginia couldn’t reach.
Ohio might not be done, either. It’ll face the region’s top seed, North Carolina, in Friday’s game. But the Tar Heels may not have point guard Kendall Marshall, their most important player.
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