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BC-BKC--NCAA Tournament-The Latest

March 31, 2019
By The Associated Press

The Latest on the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament (all times Eastern):

5:10 p.m.

Cam Reddish has checked into the game for Duke about two minutes into the East Region final.

Reddish missed the Elite Eight victory over Virginia Tech with an injured left knee. That was the first game all season the freshman forward hadn’t started.

He didn’t start Sunday against Michigan State, either, but quickly was on the floor.

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4:55 p.m.

Bruce Pearl and his Auburn Tigers are heading to the Final Four.

Two days after losing starting forward Chuma Okeke to a major knee injury, the fifth-seeded Tigers beat second-seeded Kentucky 77-71 in overtime in the NCAA Midwest Region final.

Auburn (30-9) overcame PJ Washington’s 28 points and 13 rebounds, foul trouble and a slow start to punch its ticket to Minneapolis for its first appearance in the Final Four. The Tigers play No. 1 seed Virginia in a national semifinal Saturday.

Jared Harper had 12 of his 26 points in overtime, and Bryce Brown scored 17 of his 24 points after halftime to lead the Tigers’ comeback.

Auburn had opened the game missing 8 of its first 9 3-pointers and trailed by 11 at the midway point of the half. Kentucky finished the season 30-7.

— Eric Olson reporting from Kansas City, Missouri.

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4:30 p.m.

Kentucky and Auburn are headed to overtime tied at 60 in their Midwest Region finale.

One night after Virginia and Purdue played an extra session to decide the South Region champ, the Wildcats and Tigers played to a draw after 40 minutes. Kentucky had its chances, getting two shots blocked in the closing seconds, and the Tigers’ Horace Spencer missed an open 3 at the buzzer.

The Wildcats led by 10 early in the game. The Tigers led by as many as six down the stretch.

The winner gets the Cavaliers in the national semifinals.

— Dave Skretta reporting from Kansas City, Missouri.

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4:15 p.m.

Kentucky and Auburn are headed for a nip-and-tuck finish for a spot in the Final Four.

Bryce Brown has poured in 24 points and Jared Harper has added 12 for the Tigers, who have rallied from a 10-point first-half hole to take a 58-56 lead on the No. 2 seed Wildcats with 3:28 to go.

PJ Washington has been answering every salvo for Kentucky. The star forward has 20 points and nine boards in just 28 minutes, entering the game off the bench but then rarely leaving it.

Auburn has already dispatched Kansas and North Carolina to reach the final of the Midwest Region, and is now trying to take down the winningest program of all.

— Dave Skretta reporting from Kansas City, Missouri.

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4:10 p.m.

Cam Reddish is not listed in the starting lineup distributed by Duke before its East Region final against Michigan State.

Reddish sat out Duke’s regional semifinal victory over Virginia Tech on Friday night with a left knee injury.

That was the first game all season that the freshman forward didn’t start for the Blue Devils, who are the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Reddish is averaging 13.6 points this season, third on Duke behind fellow freshmen RJ Barrett and Zion Williamson.

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3:45 p.m.

Here come Bryce Brown and the sharp-shooting Tigers.

Auburn trailed Kentucky 37-32 in the opening minutes of the second half when Brown, who was so cold early on, drained a 3-pointer. The Tigers forced a quick turnover and Brown was fouled, making the first two of three free throws. On the miss, the Wildcats’ PJ Washington tried to save the ball and it went right to Brown, who buried another 3-pointer from the corner.

The five-point trip down floor gave the Tigers their first lead at 40-37 with 17:51 to go.

Then at the under-16 media timeout, injured forward Chuma Okeke was brought to the bench in a wheelchair, causing the Auburn fans to roar a little bit louder.

— Dave Skretta reporting from Kansas City, Missouri.

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3:15 p.m.

Kentucky is 20 minutes away from its 18th trip to the Final Four.

PJ Washington has come off the bench to score 15 points in just 14 minutes, and the second-seeded Wildcats are containing Auburn’s vast array of 3-point threats in building a 35-30 halftime lead.

The Tigers are fortunate to be that close.

They trailed by as many as 10 in the first half, and foul trouble along their depleted front line gave Kentucky an opportunity to put the game away early. But diminutive guard Jared Harper scored all of his eight first-half points in the final 3:33 to keep the SEC tourney champs in the game.

The winner gets a date with Virginia in the national semifinals in Minneapolis.

— Dave Skretta reporting from Kansas City, Missouri.

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3 p.m.

Kentucky is pounding away at Auburn in the paint and the fouls are quickly piling up.

The forward trio of Malik Dunbar, Horace Spencer and Austin Wiley had picked up two fouls apiece by the 10-minute mark of the first half, forcing Tigers coach Bruce Pearl to begin shuffling lineups.

Dunbar checked back into the game and earned his third with 4:44 to go.

That foul trouble is particularly troublesome without Chuma Okeke, their 6-foot-8 sophomore forward, who tore the ACL in his left knee against North Carolina on Friday night.

PJ Washington came off the bench for Kentucky and already has 11 points, taking advantage of his size in the post. Keldon Johnson has pulled down six boards for the Wildcats.

— Dave Skretta reporting from Kansas City, Missouri.

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2:40 p.m.

Auburn coach Bruce Pearl admitted his team would need to shoot lights-out to beat Kentucky, and midway through the first half the Tigers were still searching for the switch.

The team that knocked down 17 3-pointers in a regional semifinal win over North Carolina was 3 of 13 from the field and 1 of 6 from beyond the arc. Top sharpshooter Bryce Brown missed two wide-open looks in the first minute, and the Tigers are suddenly facing a big hole against a much bigger team.

Tyler Herro is back at it for the Wildcats, with five points, helping them to a 17-7 lead.

— Dave Skretta reporting from Kansas City, Missouri.

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2 p.m.

Auburn forward Chuma Okeke will be rooting on his teammates as they face Kentucky for a spot in the Final Four.

The sophomore from Atlanta tore the ACL in his left knee late in the Tigers’ regional semifinal victory over North Carolina, and he is scheduled to undergo surgery Tuesday in Alabama. In the meantime, Okeke remains with the team and is serving as a source of inspiration.

The hashtag “DoItForChuma” has been blazing across social media the past 24 hours.

The Tigers’ starting five will be Jared Harper, Bryce Brown and Malik Dunbar in the backcourt and Horace Spencer and Anfernee McLemoree down low. Junior forward Danjel Purifoy also should get more minutes with Okeke out of the rotation.

— Dave Skretta reporting from Kansas City, Missouri.

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1:45 p.m.

Kentucky star P.J. Washington is expected to come off the bench when the second-seeded Wildcats face fifth-seeded Auburn in the Midwest regional final with a spot in the Final Four on the line.

Washington was in a cast last week to protect his sprained left foot, missing the first two games of the NCAA Tournament. But came back to play well in a semifinal win over Houston, scoring 16 points and making a key block that led to Tyler Herro’s go-ahead 3-pointer in the final minute.

Washington said Saturday that he came out of the game in good shape, and it would be up to Kentucky coach John Calipari whether he started. EJ Montgomery is getting the nod instead alongside forward Reid Travis, Herro and fellow guards Ashton Hagans and Keldon Johnson.

— Dave Skretta reporting from Kansas City, Missouri.

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12:30 p.m.

Two of college basketball’s most famed coaches go head to head Sunday for a spot in the Final Four.

Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski and Michigan State’s Tom Izzo face off in the East regional final of the NCAA Tournament. Krzyzewski has 12 Final Four trips and five national titles. Izzo has seven Final Four appearances and a national championship since taking over at Michigan State in 1995.

Izzo says he hopes the game is as good as the billing.

The Blue Devils have won nine of the past 10 and seven straight in the series, including a victory in the 2015 Final Four. Krzyzewski downplays that.

He says his team is playing the Michigan State of today, which is capable of defeating Duke.

___

noon

Auburn already has NCAA Tournament wins over Kansas and North Carolina. Kentucky might be the next blue blood to fall.

The Tigers’ most recent loss was an 80-53 defeat at Kentucky. Since then, the Tigers have won 11 straight overall, including the SEC Tournament, on their way to the Elite Eight.

Auburn guard Bryce Brown says some losses in the middle of the season woke up his team.

Auburn will be without Chuma Okeke, who tore his left ACL in the win over North Carolina on Friday night. He’s scheduled for surgery on Tuesday.

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