Cue the game film from the 2012 NCAA Tournament first round when CJ McCollum scored 30 points to lead 15-seed Lehigh over Duke. That is the type of performance Max Abmas mimicked when Oral Roberts upset No. 2 seed Ohio State.
Abmas, who paces the country at 24.5 points per game, went off for 29 points (including a 5-of-10 mark from 3), five rebounds, and three assists while playing all 45 minutes in the Golden Eagles’ overtime victory over the Buckeyes.
Unsurprisingly, that performance was soon certified as McCollum approved.
Mid major killllllaaa https://t.co/ABiehdqPOP
— CJ McCollum (@CJMcCollum) March 19, 2021
He followed that up with a 26-point, seven assist performance in an 81-78 win over No. 7 seed Florida in which he played every minute yet again.
Now, he’s led the Golden Eagles to the Sweet 16.
Abmas is potentially the most explosive scorer in the country, as evidenced by his nation-pacing mark. He has two 40-point efforts, in addition to scoring 30 points in six contests earlier this season.
He is deadly from behind the arc, hitting 43.1% of his 3-point attempts on the season. Abmas doesn’t miss often from the free-throw line either, where he shoots 89.9%.
That also fits in line with what Oral Roberts does as a team.
Abmas is the personification of the Golden Eagles’ style, as they love to bomb 3s and get out in transition. The Golden Eagles shoot over 38% from deep, while also shooting 3s on 46.2% of their field goal attempts. Oral Roberts is also the best free-throw shooting team in the country, making 82.4% of its shots at the charity stripe.
This Golden Eagles team can flat-out score, primarily thanks to Abmas and Kevin Obanor, who form a deadly pick-and-roll duo that has carried the team all season. They rank in the 98th percentile in half-court offense, per Synergy.
It works because Abmas is capable of going for 40 points on any given night, while Obanor is a walking double-double who averages 18.2 PPG and 9.5 RPG.
This offense, which ranks in the 98th percentile in terms of points per possession (per Synergy), can keep up with the big boys.
Now, Abmas has another monumental challenge in front of him against No. 3 seed Arkansas. The Razorbacks are easily the best defense the Golden Eagles have seen in Indianapolis up to this point.
Arkansas ranks 10th in the nation in adjusted defensive efficiency at 89.3, per KenPom, a vast improvement over the marks of Florida at 92.3 (29th) and Ohio State at 96.9 (81st).
Abmas will need to bring out his inner McCollum again if he wants to rewrite history in the Sweet 16.
Kyle Remillard, Stuckey, BJ Cunningham, and Pete Ruden contributed to this article.