KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Indeed, Auburn and North Carolina gave everyone the track meet they were expecting. In the end, though, the Tigers were the ones still sprinting towards the finish line -- and their second Elite Eight appearance in school history.
Auburn got significant minutes and points from its role players and bench in a 97-80 win over the Tar Heels. In a game when Jared Harper and Bryce Brown were not significant contributors -- they finished with a combined 21 points on 6 of 15 shooting from the field -- Auburn relied on other names to get the job done. The biggest surprise came from forward Chuma Okeke, who shot 73 percent and was 3 of 5 from beyond the arc. He finished with a double-double of 20 points and 11 rebounds. However, Okeke left the game in the second half with a scary-looking knee injury and did not return. When driving to the basket, Okeke's left leg buckled and he writhed in pain on the court before walking gingerly to the locker room.
Elsewhere, Danjel Purifoy and J'Von McCormick came off the bench to hit some big-time shots. Purifoy was 4 of 6 from 3-point land while McCormick had 10 points and was a great two-way presence driving the ball to the basket and nabbing two steals on defense.
It's a good thing coach Bruce Pearl is comfortable playing 10 because Auburn got its best games from its role players. While it was still a typical Tigers track meet -- Pearl's team shot 46 percent from three at 37 attempts -- it didn't unfold from the usual names. Auburn's bench outscored North Carolina's 40-21.
The Tar Heels couldn't buy a bucket from beyond the arc. By the time it was clear they needed to play catch-up, it was too late. Roy Williams will lament the effort from his players in the first half. Auburn was out-rebounding North Carolina in the first half and giving great effort in second-chance offense as well as on defense.
Dennis Dodd is in Kansas City and CBS Sports was with you throughout the game on Friday night with our live blog below. If you are having trouble viewing the blog, please click here.
UNC vs. Auburn commentary
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