Auburn strikes nearer to program’s first Closing 4

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Auburn is the bottom remaining seed within the NCAA event, however the Tigers are the remainder of the sector’s worst nightmare.

Auburn took down its second straight faculty basketball big Friday evening within the Candy 16, working away from North Carolina within the second half for a 97-80 victory. The Tigers, the No. 5 seed within the Midwest Area, will play Kentucky on Sunday.

The Tigers beat the No. 1-seeded Tar Heels the identical method they took down Kansas to advance to the Candy 16. They made 17 of 37 Three-point pictures (46 p.c), together with 12 of 18 within the second half. They buried 43 p.c of their 3s in beating the Jayhawks.

The Tigers are fearless. They’re unafraid of any shot and any tempo, and in the event that they proceed their torrid share from Three on Sunday, they will advance to the primary Closing 4 at school historical past.

Bryce Brown exhibits his feelings as Auburn superior on Friday. AP Picture/Charlie Riedel

“It was too troublesome for us [to defend Auburn] as a result of we did not do an excellent job of it,” North Carolina coach Roy Williams stated. “They push the tempo very laborious, come proper up your again. They penetrate, and in making an attempt to make the choice whether or not to assist or keep hooked up to the Three-point shooter, they’ll again you off with their quickness and shoot it.

“However they nonetheless needed to make them and you must give them credit score for that.”

The down notice for the Tigers was the lack of ahead Chuma Okeke with a knee harm. Auburn coach Bruce Pearl would not speculate on the character of the harm however stated ”it may very well be critical.”

Auburn buried No. 1 seed North Carolina with 3s on Friday evening, draining 17 pictures from distance on the way in which to a 97-80 victory over the Tar Heels.

Friday’s video games included each massive wins (Michigan State and Auburn) and shut ones (Duke and Kentucky).

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Okeke is Auburn’s main rebounder and third-leading scorer. He was their prime scorer towards North Carolina with 20 factors.

“In a recreation full of fellows that have gotten an opportunity to play on the subsequent stage, I believed he was the very best participant,” Pearl stated.

“He is a nightmare to match up with as a result of he can guard any place. He can rating in and out. In order a playcaller, he provides you unimaginable flexibility. He is our most versatile participant.”

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The Tigers made their first three pictures of the second half — two of them from Three — to go on an Eight-Zero run and take management of the sport. The Tar Heels by no means significantly threatened after that.

North Carolina, because the Tar Heels normally do, insisted on enjoying at a frantically quick tempo. Auburn did not hesitate to run with them. Their taking pictures was off within the first half, as they have been simply 5-of-9 (26 p.c) from Three.

Auburn’s second-half taking pictures was extra typical of the Tigers of late. As Pearl stated, “We’re who we’re.”

That is a staff with 11 straight victories, the longest present successful streak amongst Division I groups. The trip may finish on Sunday, however that is going to take an opponent more proficient defensively than Kansas and North Carolina.

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