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NIT: No. 6 Akron Zips vs. No. 3 Ohio State Buckeyes men's basketball recap: Zips lose an overtime thriller 72-63

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Akron charged into Columbus ready to pull off the upset. They gave a depleted Buckeyes team all they could handle, but missed opportunities late was enough to shift momentum Ohio State's way.

Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Akron came into this contest energized despite a devastating end to their season. All season long the Zips looked like the best team in the Mid-American Conference. These Zips were less than 5 seconds away from being rewarded for their spectacular regular season, with a trip to the NCAA Tournament. Buffalo and their late-game heroics had other plans for who should take the automatic-bid from the MAC.

Even with the crushing loss to Buffalo in the MAC Championship game, Akron was excited to play in this game. Ohio State is the premier college program in the state of Ohio. The Buckeyes have the fancy facilities, play in a competitive conference, and their games are often nationally televised. Akron, as the smaller program, always chomps at the bit to play the regional power, especially when the contest is on ESPN.

Both teams came out of the gate ice cold on the offensive end. Ohio State and Akron were settling for poor shots and couldn't find their shooting touch. The offensive woes did not continue for long as both teams started to get into a rhythm.

Akron was attacking the void left by the ill Buckeye big man Keita Bates-Diop. Coach Keith Dambrot inserted Isaiah Johnson in the game to attack the depleted Buckeyes bigs. On the offensive end, Johnson was backing defenders down and pounding it inside. Once the ball was inside he used an array of post-moves to finish around the rim. Defensively, Johnson was altering shots and grabbing rebounds. He went into the half-time break with six points and five rebounds.

Once Johnson was taken as a serious threat inside the paint, Akron started to play inside-out basketball. The Zips used penetration and throwing the ball into the post to open up passes for open three-point shooters. They went into the half shooting 5-15 from deep. This diverse offense allowed them to hold a 29-25 lead after 20 minutes.

Coming out of the intermission, Ohio State started to play with more intensity. Early on in the second half, the Buckeyes matched Akron. Later on in the half, Akron struggled to get comfortable. At one point they went over 8 minutes without hitting a three-point field goal. Despite not being in an offensive rhythm, Akron only found themselves down 52-48 with seven minutes remaining.

The momentum shifted from Ohio State to Akron when Reggie McAdams snapped the drought, converting on a 4 point play. This brought the loud Akron fan base to their feet.

The last five minutes were back and forth. Akron and Ohio State exchanged the lead 23 times during the game. At times it looked like Ohio State could extend a lead and finish the Zips off. Thankfully, clutch three-pointers from McAdams and Jake Kretzer kept the game tight down the stretch.

With less than 20 seconds left Ohio State had the ball and an opportunity to win the contest. JaQuan Lyle drove the baseline and put up a floater that rolled out at the buzzer, and sent the game to overtime.

Overtime did not treat the Zips nicely. Akron missed a ton of free-throws and did not convert on one field goal attempt during the extra frame. The main turning point in favor of Ohio State was when McAdams missed a pair of open threes when Akron was down 66-63. You could see the frustration from McAdams as he knew he blew a huge opportunity. The Buckeyes came down after those McAdams misses and found a wide open scorer off an Akron defensive breakdown. McAdams finished with 12 points while shooting 3-14 from behind the arc.

Ohio State now leads the all-time series with Akron 7-1. The Zips lone win against Ohio State was back in 1913, where Akron topped the Buckeyes by a score of 21-19.

When fans look back at this game they will remember the superb performances from a slew of Zips. First and foremost  Isaiah Johnson has to recognized for his stellar play. He finished with a double-double of 16 points and 12 rebounds. His 38 percent from the free-throw line did not help, but he still had a solid game. Jake Kretzer also contributed 12 points while shooting 50 percent from deep.

Ohio State fans will remember the dominance from Marc Loving, Lyle, and Kam Williams. They each added 18 points of their own and secured a total of 32 rebounds. Out of the trio, Kam Williams was the only player not to tally a double-double.

Ohio State will get the winner of Florida and North Florida in the second-round of the NIT Tournament. The Buckeyes will host a Florida school with a trip to New York City on the line. Akron can only look back and wonder how far they could have gone if they were playing at their absolute best.