KANSAS CITY, MO. – Auburn was 36-for-66 shooting from the field Friday as it ended North Carolina’s NCAA tournament with a 97-80 victory in a Midwest Region semifinal at the Sprint Center to advance to the Elite Eight.
“It was demoralizing,” as North Carolina freshman forward Nassir Little said.
Well, when the No. 5 seed shoots 54.5 percent and goes 12-for-18 in the second half on three-pointers, it certainly would feel like that for the knocked-off No. 1 seed. The Tigers (29-9) finished the game 17-for-37 from the three-point arc.
While the Tigers endured a possibly season-ending knee injury with about eight minutes remaining for one of its top players, Chuma Okeke (20 points and 11 rebounds), the Tar Heels (29-7) weren’t playing at full strength the entire game. Little was so sick Thursday because of flu-like symptoms that he could hardly lift a spoon, according to coach Roy Williams. And Williams said senior guard Cameron Johnson was throwing up after the game and had run a 100-degree fever Thursday night.
“Nassir didn’t have as much lift as he had, and Cam wasn’t the same person on the court,” Williams said. “Those are excuses. We’ve got to congratulate Auburn and Bruce [Pearl, Auburn coach] and the job that he and his coaching staff did.”