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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):

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.

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.

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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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