The Akron Zips nearly pulled off a stunning upset over No. 17 Ohio State on the opening night of the 2021-22 college basketball season.

Ohio State — a 16.5-point favorite, and No. 8 on the initial KenPom rankings — escaped with a 67-66 victory, and they needed a buzzer-beater to make it happen.

Akron trailed by as many as 14 points in the first half and trailed by eight points at halftime, but battled back with a terrific second half (outscoring the Buckeyes 38-31).

Sophomore forward Ali Ali led the Zips in scoring with 17 points, and he had this high-difficulty baseline fadeaway to give Akron a 62-59 lead with just over three minutes remaining.

Akron trailed 65-62 in the final seconds, and again it was Ali that stepped up with a huge shot. Ali nailed a three-pointer and drew a foul with six seconds left. That became a four-point play to give the Zips a 66-65 lead.

But Ohio State’s beat the buzzer Zed Key for a game-winning layup. After review, there were still 0.3 seconds left on the clock, but Akron was nowhere close on a quick desperation shot.

Ali and Akron almost pulled off an amazing win to open the season, but instead it’s a heartbreaking loss. Still, this game should be a big boost for the team confidence going forward; they know that they’re capable of beating a great Big Ten program on the road, and things will get easier in the MAC.

For Ohio State, they’re happy to escape with a victory. Stack up victories now, get better as the season goes on. But it should be a wake-up call for the Buckeyes all the same.

Related: “I’d like to tell you what’s happening, but that’s not currently possible”: technical difficulties hit ESPN2 Akron-Ohio State broadcast

About Matt Clapp

Matt is an editor at The Comeback. He attended Colorado State University, wishes he was Saved by the Bell's Zack Morris, and idolizes Larry David. And loves pizza and dogs because obviously.

He can be followed on Twitter at @Matt2Clapp (also @TheBlogfines for Cubs/MLB tweets and @DaBearNecess for Bears/NFL tweets), and can be reached by email at mclapp@thecomeback.com.