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The teams traded leads, neither able to put the other away. When Barnes missed badly on a 3 with 1:17 to play, the crowd taunted him with chants of “Air-ball! Air-ball!” But Williams could be heard yelling “One stop!” at his team, and the Tar Heels got it when Cooper missed a jumper at the other end.

Bullock then drilled a 3 to give North Carolina a 63-61 lead with 39 seconds left, but Offutt — who else? — scored on an off-balance drive and drew a foul by Stilman White, Marshall’s fill-in, in the process. Offutt’s foul shot was way left, the only free throw the Bobcats missed all night, and Zeller grabbed the rebound.

The Tar Heels worked the shot clock down to the very last seconds, but Barnes lost the ball and Offutt came up with it. He flipped the ball to Cooper, who raced to midcourt and launched a prayer. It caromed off the rim, sending the game into overtime.

Kellogg’s father, Clark, calling the games in Atlanta for CBS, smiled as he watched the final plays.

“Overtime,” he said, clapping.

But the Bobcats had nothing left. Bullock opened the extra period with a 3 and Barnes came right back with a jumper. After Kellogg made a pair of free throws to cut it to 68-65, Barnes made a pair of his own and Ohio could never get any closer.

”Awful proud of our guys for the way that they fought,” Ohio coach John Groce said. “But as I told them in the locker room, there’s nothing I can say to them at this point that’s going to take away the sting of getting beat in that one. They’ve got a lot of pride and they believed all year that we could compete and beat anybody that we played. That was no different heading into tonight’s game.”