Auburn Tigers basketball wrapped up a statement victory on Friday night by upsetting No. 1 seed North Carolina in dominant fashion during the Sweet 16 of the 2019 NCAA Tournament. The Tar Heels, who were a popular championship pick (behind the Duke Blue Devils), were stunned and sent packing in a double-digit loss to Bruce Pearl’s squad.
Not surprisingly, after the huge win, Auburn fans had plenty to celebrate, and they did just that on campus. As Sara Palczewski of the Opelika-Auburn News revealed, fans were wreaking havoc over their team’s Elite Eight trip.
Auburn entered the game as a No. 5 seed in the midwest region and was fresh off a double-digit win over the No. 4 seed Kansas Jayhawks in the round of 32.
Auburn’s Dominant Win Over UNC
The Tigers were up just two points at halftime but outscored the Tar Heels by 15 in the second half while pouring in 56 points over the final 20 minutes to win 97-80. They were led by a superb performance from Chuma Okeke, who scored 20 points with 11 rebounds, two assists and two steals. Unfortunately, he left the game with an apparent knee injury and there hasn’t been an update yet on his status.
Along with Okeke’s impressive showing, Malik Dunbar scored 13 points while Bryce Brown added 12 points and four rebounds. Jared Harper did a bit of everything by scoring nine points with 11 assists.
Auburn was simply on fire in this game, shooting 54.5 percent from the field and knocking down 17-of-37 from beyond the arc (45.9 percent). Along with the four aforementioned players, the Tigers got production across the board, including 40 bench points. Danjel Purifoy led the bench scoring with 14 points while J’Von McCormick tacked on 10 points.
What’s Ahead for Auburn Basketball
The trip to the Elite Eight is a huge accomplishment, and the Tigers will now face the winner of Kentucky vs. Houston, which was the late game on Friday night. Whoever they face, that game will be played on Sunday, but the time has yet to be determined.
As for the team specifically, attention will shift to Okeke, whose knee injury left obvious cause for concern as he needed to be helped off the floor. It was a tough scene to watch and happened on a non-contact play, as seen below courtesy of CBS Sports.
We’ll certainly monitor the situation, but it’s unlikely any major update on the forward’s injury will come until some point on Saturday. After the game, Pearl was asked about Okeke and couldn’t hold back his tears while attempting to talk about the injury.