AUBURN
UNC

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Hot-shooting Auburn upsets No. 1 North Carolina 97-80

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) The euphoria of reaching the Elite Eight for the first time in 33 years had already worn off and Auburn coach Bruce Pearl was left to arrange his bravest smile on his face.

His trigger-happy Tigers were moving on in the NCAA Tournament.

They were doing it without their most versatile player.

Behind yet another 3-point barrage, No. 5 seed Auburn overcame a slow start to roar past top-seeded North Carolina 97-80 in the Midwest Region semifinals Friday night. But the victory came only after sophomore forward Chuma Okeke, who already had scored a game-high 20 points and pulled down 11 rebounds, sustained a gruesome injury to his left knee in the closing minutes of the game.

''It's a bittersweet accomplishment because of Chuma getting hurt,'' Pearl conceded. ''In a game full of guys that have a chance to play at the next level, I thought he was the best player.''

Yet he didn't do it alone. And that should give the Tigers (29-9), who matched the 1998-99 team for most wins in school history, some confidence as they aim for their first Final Four.

Malik Dunbar finished with 13 points, Bryce Brown and Danjel Purifoy scored 12 apiece, and Jared Harper scored nine while dishing out 11 assists in Auburn's latest takedown of college hoops royalty.

It was Kansas last week. It was North Carolina on Friday night. It could be Kentucky next, after the Wildcats survived Houston's comeback bid for a 62-58 victory in the second semifinal.

That trio represents the three winningest programs in Division I history.

''Three games away. That's the bottom line,'' said Brown, the catalyst of a team that rained in 17 3-pointers against the Tar Heels. ''I want to lead my guys to a national championship.''

The Tar Heels' own title aspirations may have been brought down by the flu bug.

Leading scorer Cameron Johnson spiked a fever Thursday night, and he wound up going 4 of 11 from the floor and scoring 15 points. Top bench player Nassir Little didn't practice all week with the same symptoms, and he wound up scoring four points in just 12 minutes.

''Nassir didn't have the same lift and Cam wasn't the same person on the court, but those are just excuses,'' said North Carolina coach Roy Williams, whose team was the first No. 1 seed to go down.

Auburn-Carolina was the track meet everyone anticipated from the opening tip, the only difference that the Tar Heels preferred to go to the basket while the Tigers kept pulling up for 3s.

Early on, they didn't make nearly enough.

Yet they managed to track down all the long boards, allowing Pearl's team to hang tough on the glass against the team with the nation's No. 1 rebounding differential. That in turn gave them second and third chances down floor, and allowed Auburn to take a 41-39 lead into the break.

The Tigers' run eventually reached 14-0 spanning halftime, giving them the first double-digit lead of the game. Williams finally relented and called timeout, and the genteel North Carolina coach with the aw-shucks disposition spent most of it savagely ripping into his bench.

The Tar Heels responded, at least for a while. But even when Maye and Johnson managed to trim their deficit to 60-54 with 13 minutes left, and a building solidly packed with Carolina blue began to stir, a brazen bunch of Tigers answered by rejecting a pair of dunks and knocking down a 3.

Or two or three of them.

In fact, they knocked down five straight 3s at one point. Purifoy had two, prompting Williams to ask, ''Who has No. 3!?'' The answer was nobody: Purifoy knocked down another for good measure.

''I'll never use that halftime talk again,'' Williams said, ''because it sure as dickens didn't work.''

The Tigers' momentum finally slowed when Okeke's left knee buckled on the way to the basket. The sophomore forward crumpled to the floor along the baseline, rolling around in agony and disappointment, and it eventually took two trainers to help him limp to the locker room.

''We think it could be serious,'' Pearl said. ''In those moments you begin to see what these guys are made of, the fabric. Our guys started to pray, and asked God to watch over our brother.''

Then the Tigers gave him something good to watch in the locker room.

Brown knocked down one more 3 to give the Tigers an 88-72 lead with 2:12 left, then took a steal for an emphatic breakaway dunk that the left the backboard shaking, and a single section sporting orange opposite the Auburn bench joined the celebration with a team headed back to the Elite Eight.

''I'm really proud of our team,'' Okeke said through a team spokesman. ''We were able to make history tonight. We do not drop off when we go to our bench and we'll be ready for whoever we play on Sunday.''

BIG PICTURE

Auburn was dynamic from the perimeter but dreadful from the foul line, going 8 of 17. It was a wonder North Carolina didn't start fouling with about 5 minutes left, particularly the way the Tigers were shooting it from everywhere else.

North Carolina was 7 of 28 from the 3-point line, numbers that simply didn't add up against Auburn's barrage. Now the question becomes who will leave for the NBA? The Tar Heels have plenty of top pro prospects, and those upcoming decisions will largely shape next season.

UP NEXT

Auburn will face the Wildcats on Sunday afternoon for a spot in the Final Four. The Tigers have faced Kentucky twice this season, losing close at home before getting blown out at Rupp Arena.

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1st Half

Time Team Play Score
20:00   Jumpball received by North Carolina  
19:56   Lost ball turnover on Kenny Williams, stolen by Bryce Brown  
19:37   Chuma Okeke missed turnaround jump shot  
19:35   Defensive rebound by Luke Maye  
19:28 +2 Garrison Brooks made layup, assist by Luke Maye 0-2
19:09 +2 Chuma Okeke made driving layup 2-2
18:50 +3 Kenny Williams made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Luke Maye 2-5
18:34   Anfernee McLemore missed 3-pt. jump shot  
18:32   Offensive rebound by Malik Dunbar  
18:27 +3 Malik Dunbar made 3-pt. jump shot 5-5
18:19 +2 Coby White made driving layup 5-7
18:13 +2 Jared Harper made driving layup 7-7
18:06   Coby White missed 3-pt. jump shot  
18:04   Defensive rebound by Bryce Brown  
17:45   Jared Harper missed 3-pt. jump shot  
17:43   Defensive rebound by Coby White  
17:39   Shooting foul on Anfernee McLemore  
17:39 +1 Coby White made 1st of 2 free throws 7-8
17:39 +1 Coby White made 2nd of 2 free throws 7-9
17:13 +3 Chuma Okeke made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Jared Harper 10-9
16:53   Cameron Johnson missed driving layup, blocked by Horace Spencer  
16:51   Offensive rebound by Coby White  
16:51   Personal foul on Jared Harper  
16:37   Cameron Johnson missed 3-pt. jump shot  
16:35   Defensive rebound by Chuma Okeke  
16:31 +2 Malik Dunbar made driving layup, assist by Chuma Okeke 12-9
16:17 +3 Luke Maye made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Coby White 12-12
16:04   Jared Harper missed layup  
16:02   Defensive rebound by Garrison Brooks  
15:56 +2 Coby White made jump shot 12-14
15:42   Malik Dunbar missed 3-pt. jump shot  
15:40   Defensive rebound by Cameron Johnson  
15:32   Coby White missed layup  
15:30   Offensive rebound by Luke Maye  
15:27   Luke Maye missed tip-in  
15:25   Defensive rebound by Chuma Okeke  
15:14   Jared Harper missed 3-pt. jump shot  
15:12   Offensive rebound by Chuma Okeke  
14:55   Bad pass turnover on Jared Harper, stolen by Coby White  
14:54   Personal foul on Horace Spencer  
14:36   Luke Maye missed jump shot  
14:34   Defensive rebound by Austin Wiley  
14:10 +2 J'Von McCormick made floating jump shot 14-14
13:55   Luke Maye missed 3-pt. jump shot  
13:53   Defensive rebound by J'Von McCormick  
13:46   Bad pass turnover on J'Von McCormick, stolen by Kenny Williams  
13:40   Lost ball turnover on Kenny Williams, stolen by Samir Doughty  
13:34 +2 Samir Doughty made layup 16-14
13:29   Coby White missed 3-pt. jump shot  
13:25   Personal foul on Garrison Brooks  
13:16   Bad pass turnover on Samir Doughty, stolen by Luke Maye  
13:09   Brandon Robinson missed 3-pt. jump shot  
13:07   Defensive rebound by Austin Wiley  
12:58 +2 J'Von McCormick made driving layup 18-14
12:46   Shooting foul on Danjel Purifoy  
12:46   Brandon Robinson missed 1st of 2 free throws  
12:46 +1 Brandon Robinson made 2nd of 2 free throws 18-15
12:37   Bryce Brown missed 3-pt. jump shot  
12:35   Defensive rebound by Seventh Woods  
12:22 +2 Luke Maye made floating jump shot, assist by Seventh Woods 18-17
11:57   J'Von McCormick missed floating jump shot  
11:55   Offensive rebound by J'Von McCormick  
11:38 +3 Malik Dunbar made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Danjel Purifoy 21-17
11:22   Cameron Johnson missed 3-pt. jump shot  
11:20   Offensive rebound by Brandon Robinson  
11:15 +3 Brandon Robinson made 3-pt. fade-away jump shot, assist by Luke Maye 21-20
11:02   Danjel Purifoy missed 3-pt. jump shot  
11:00   Defensive rebound by Brandon Robinson  
10:47   Nassir Little missed 3-pt. jump shot  
10:45   Defensive rebound by Malik Dunbar  
10:38   Malik Dunbar missed 3-pt. jump shot  
10:36   Offensive rebound by Danjel Purifoy  
10:36   Personal foul on Seventh Woods  
10:36   5-second inbounding violation turnover on Auburn  
10:29   Offensive foul on Nassir Little  
10:29   Turnover on Nassir Little  
10:05 +3 Chuma Okeke made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Jared Harper 24-20
9:37   Lost ball turnover on Seventh Woods, stolen by Chuma Okeke  
9:33   Bryce Brown missed 3-pt. jump shot  
9:31   Defensive rebound by Kenny Williams  
9:18   Nassir Little missed 3-pt. jump shot, blocked by Anfernee McLemore  
9:16   Offensive rebound by Nassir Little  
9:13   Nassir Little missed jump shot  
9:11   Defensive rebound by Chuma Okeke  
9:03   Malik Dunbar missed 3-pt. jump shot  
9:01   Offensive rebound by Chuma Okeke  
8:40   Malik Dunbar missed 3-pt. jump shot  
8:38   Defensive rebound by Seventh Woods  
8:15 +2 Nassir Little made layup, assist by Kenny Williams 24-22
8:04   Anfernee McLemore missed 3-pt. jump shot  
8:02   Offensive rebound by Malik Dunbar  
7:59 +2 Chuma Okeke made layup, assist by Malik Dunbar 26-22
7:35 +2 Seventh Woods made driving layup 26-24
7:16   Malik Dunbar missed layup, blocked by Garrison Brooks  
7:14   Defensive rebound by Garrison Brooks  
7:12 +2 Nassir Little made driving layup, assist by Garrison Brooks 26-26
7:12   Shooting foul on Jared Harper  
7:12   Nassir Little missed free throw  
7:12   Offensive rebound by Garrison Brooks  
7:05   Cameron Johnson missed layup, blocked by Horace Spencer  
7:03   Defensive rebound by Chuma Okeke  
6:48   Lost ball turnover on Chuma Okeke, stolen by Cameron Johnson  
6:36 +3 Kenny Williams made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Coby White 26-29
6:22   Bryce Brown missed 3-pt. jump shot  
6:20   Offensive rebound by Chuma Okeke  
6:02   Shot clock violation turnover on Auburn  
5:59   Bad pass turnover on Luke Maye, stolen by J'Von McCormick  
5:40   Bad pass turnover on Bryce Brown, stolen by Cameron Johnson  
5:35   Lost ball turnover on Coby White, stolen by Horace Spencer  
5:29 +2 Horace Spencer made driving layup 28-29
5:13   Shooting foul on Samir Doughty  
5:13 +1 Coby White made 1st of 2 free throws 28-30
5:13 +1 Coby White made 2nd of 2 free throws 28-31
5:00   Samir Doughty missed jump shot  
4:58   Defensive rebound by Cameron Johnson  
4:52 +2 Kenny Williams made jump shot, assist by Coby White 28-33
4:29   Chuma Okeke missed 3-pt. jump shot  
4:27   Defensive rebound by Cameron Johnson  
4:18   Coby White missed 3-pt. jump shot  
4:16   Defensive rebound by Bryce Brown  
4:08 +3 Samir Doughty made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Chuma Okeke 31-33
3:56   Bad pass turnover on Cameron Johnson  
3:33   J'Von McCormick missed driving layup  
3:31   Offensive rebound by Austin Wiley  
3:31   Shooting foul on Luke Maye  
3:31   Austin Wiley missed 1st of 2 free throws  
3:31   Austin Wiley missed 2nd of 2 free throws  
3:31   Defensive rebound by Luke Maye  
3:20 +3 Cameron Johnson made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Kenny Williams 31-36
2:52 +2 J'Von McCormick made fade-away jump shot 33-36
2:45   Lost ball turnover on Coby White, stolen by Chuma Okeke  
2:39 +2 Samir Doughty made layup, assist by Bryce Brown 35-36
2:28 +2 Luke Maye made layup 35-38
2:28   Shooting foul on Austin Wiley  
2:28   Luke Maye missed free throw  
2:28   Defensive rebound by Austin Wiley  
1:59   J'Von McCormick missed 3-pt. jump shot  
1:57   Defensive rebound by Cameron Johnson  
1:53   Shooting foul on J'Von McCormick  
1:53 +1 Coby White made 1st of 2 free throws 35-39
1:53   Coby White missed 2nd of 2 free throws  
1:53   Defensive rebound by Malik Dunbar  
1:34   Bad pass turnover on Malik Dunbar, stolen by Cameron Johnson  
1:28   Luke Maye missed 3-pt. jump shot  
1:26   Offensive rebound by Kenny Williams  
1:22   Kenny Williams missed tip-in  
1:20   Offensive rebound by Kenny Williams  
1:14   Coby White missed 3-pt. jump shot  
1:12   Defensive rebound by Anfernee McLemore  
1:00 +2 Chuma Okeke made turnaround jump shot 37-39
49.0   Lost ball turnover on Nassir Little  
36.0 +2 J'Von McCormick made layup 39-39
36.0   Shooting foul on Coby White  
36.0   J'Von McCormick missed free throw  
36.0   Defensive rebound by Nassir Little  
8.0   Coby White missed jump shot  
6.0   Personal foul on Luke Maye  
1.0 +2 J'Von McCormick made driving layup 41-39
0.0   End of period  

2nd Half

Time Team Play Score
19:38 +3 Jared Harper made 3-pt. jump shot 44-39
19:15   Luke Maye missed layup  
19:13   Defensive rebound by Chuma Okeke  
19:07 +3 Bryce Brown made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Jared Harper 47-39
18:57   Cameron Johnson missed 3-pt. jump shot  
18:55   Offensive rebound by Garrison Brooks  
18:55   Jumpball received by North Carolina  
18:48   Bad pass turnover on Kenny Williams  
18:31 +2 Malik Dunbar made jump shot 49-39
18:21   Offensive foul on Kenny Williams  
18:21   Turnover on Kenny Williams  
17:58   Chuma Okeke missed 3-pt. jump shot  
17:56   Defensive rebound by Coby White  
17:48 +2 Luke Maye made layup, assist by Kenny Williams 49-41
17:26 +3 Chuma Okeke made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Jared Harper 52-41
17:07   Coby White missed 3-pt. jump shot  
17:05   Defensive rebound by Chuma Okeke  
16:59   Jared Harper missed 3-pt. jump shot  
16:56   Defensive rebound by North Carolina  
16:43   Luke Maye missed jump shot  
16:41   Offensive rebound by Luke Maye  
16:37 +2 Luke Maye made layup 52-43
16:27 +2 Chuma Okeke made driving layup, assist by Jared Harper 54-43
16:16 +3 Brandon Robinson made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Coby White 54-46
15:54 +2 Chuma Okeke made turnaround jump shot, assist by Jared Harper 56-46
15:54   Shooting foul on Garrison Brooks  
15:54   Chuma Okeke missed free throw  
15:54   Defensive rebound by Luke Maye  
15:41   Shooting foul on Horace Spencer  
15:41 +1 Garrison Brooks made 1st of 2 free throws 56-47
15:41 +1 Garrison Brooks made 2nd of 2 free throws 56-48
15:25   Lost ball turnover on Samir Doughty, stolen by Coby White  
15:19   Kenny Williams missed 3-pt. jump shot  
15:17   Defensive rebound by Horace Spencer  
15:09 +3 Samir Doughty made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by J'Von McCormick 59-48
15:02   Bad pass turnover on Luke Maye, stolen by J'Von McCormick  
15:04   J'Von McCormick missed layup  
15:02   Offensive rebound by Chuma Okeke  
15:00   Shooting foul on Garrison Brooks  
15:00 +1 Chuma Okeke made 1st of 2 free throws 60-48
15:00   Chuma Okeke missed 2nd of 2 free throws  
15:00   Defensive rebound by Cameron Johnson  
14:54 +2 Cameron Johnson made driving layup 60-50
14:33   Samir Doughty missed 3-pt. jump shot  
14:31   Defensive rebound by Luke Maye  
14:21 +2 Cameron Johnson made jump shot 60-52
14:02   J'Von McCormick missed driving layup  
14:00   Defensive rebound by Nassir Little  
13:53   Personal foul on Jared Harper  
13:52   Coby White missed 3-pt. jump shot  
13:50   Offensive rebound by Luke Maye  
13:45 +2 Luke Maye made dunk 60-54
13:22   Personal foul on Cameron Johnson  
13:16   Bryce Brown missed 3-pt. jump shot  
13:14   Offensive rebound by Austin Wiley  
12:51   Shooting foul on Cameron Johnson  
12:51   Austin Wiley missed 1st of 2 free throws  
12:51 +1 Austin Wiley made 2nd of 2 free throws 61-54
12:38   Nassir Little missed driving dunk, blocked by Austin Wiley  
12:36   Defensive rebound by Chuma Okeke  
12:23   J'Von McCormick missed driving layup, blocked by Cameron Johnson  
12:21   Defensive rebound by Kenny Williams  
12:14   Traveling violation turnover on Luke Maye  
11:55 +3 Malik Dunbar made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by J'Von McCormick 64-54
11:28   Luke Maye missed 3-pt. jump shot  
11:26   Offensive rebound by Brandon Robinson  
11:23   Nassir Little missed dunk, blocked by Chuma Okeke  
11:21   Defensive rebound by Bryce Brown  
11:18   Personal foul on Brandon Robinson  
11:07 +3 Danjel Purifoy made 3-pt. fade-away jump shot, assist by Jared Harper 67-54
10:42   Luke Maye missed hook shot  
10:40   Defensive rebound by Jared Harper  
10:20 +3 Danjel Purifoy made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Jared Harper 70-54
10:10 +2 Coby White made driving layup 70-56
10:10   Shooting foul on Anfernee McLemore  
10:10 +1 Coby White made free throw 70-57
9:57 +3 Danjel Purifoy made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by J'Von McCormick 73-57
9:46   Coby White missed jump shot  
9:44   Defensive rebound by Anfernee McLemore  
9:22 +3 Anfernee McLemore made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Jared Harper 76-57
9:05 +2 Brandon Robinson made jump shot 76-59
8:43   Danjel Purifoy missed 3-pt. jump shot  
8:39   Defensive rebound by North Carolina  
8:21 +2 Coby White made driving dunk 76-61
8:21   Shooting foul on J'Von McCormick  
8:21 +1 Coby White made free throw 76-62
8:08   Traveling violation turnover on Chuma Okeke  
7:48   Coby White missed 3-pt. jump shot  
7:46   Offensive rebound by Brandon Robinson  
7:40 +3 Cameron Johnson made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Brandon Robinson 76-65
7:16 +2 Horace Spencer made turnaround jump shot, assist by Samir Doughty 78-65
7:03   Shooting foul on Horace Spencer  
7:02 +1 Cameron Johnson made 1st of 3 free throws 78-66
7:02