No. 5 Auburn Stuns Coby White, No. 1 UNC After Chuma Okeke Suffers Knee Injury

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistMarch 30, 2019

Auburn's Anfernee McLemore celebrates at the end of the first half of a men's NCAA tournament college basketball Midwest Regional semifinal game against North Carolina Friday, March 29, 2019, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

North Carolina became the first No. 1 seed eliminated from the 2019 NCAA men's basketball tournament, suffering a 97-80 loss to No. 5 Auburn in the Sweet 16.

Chuma Okeke led the way Friday with 20 points and 11 rebounds, but he suffered a leg injury with about eight minutes left and had to be helped off the court. Auburn survived without him thanks in part to nine points and 11 assists from Jared Harper in the win at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri.

The Tigers remained red-hot from outside, shooting 12-of-18 from three-point range in the second half to reach the Elite Eight for the first time since 1986. The win was Auburn's 11th in a row.

Meanwhile, the season has come to an end for North Carolina despite 15 points and four assists from Coby White.

UNC failed to get contributions from some of its best players, as both Nassir Little and Cameron Johnson were dealing with an illness, per the TBS broadcast.

Johnson fought hard to get to 15 points but only shot 4-of-11 from the field.

Auburn took advantage while displaying a lot more depth. Five players ended up in double figures, and the Tigers scored 40 points off the bench.

Okeke was the biggest difference-maker on both ends, filling up the stat sheet with 20 points, 11 rebounds, two assists, two steals and one block.

Jonathan Wasserman @NBADraftWass

Okeke: Stock up

Jeff Goodman @GoodmanHoops

Chuma Okeke has been so damn good tonight.

The 6'8" forward also finished 3-of-5 from three-point range as a mismatch UNC couldn't defend.

Auburn continued to fight after Okeke's injury and made some big-time blocks against the Tar Heels:

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

DENIED #MarchMadness https://t.co/AbBCBeQGoc

NCAA March Madness @marchmadness

The Tigers are out here hosting a BLOCK PARTY! 😱 #Sweet16 #MarchMadness | @AuburnMBB https://t.co/BXj7hVaEjx

The Tigers were also nearly unstoppable from the outside:

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

THE BANK IS OPEN, AUBURN CANNOT MISS #MarchMadness https://t.co/HedbqARlWN

NCAA March Madness @marchmadness

These Tigers are VICIOUS! 🐅🔥 Auburn extends their lead to 18. #MarchMadness | @AuburnMBB https://t.co/JRbFVd5tbu

Add in the lightning-fast offense, and the Tigers were able to close out the upset.

Pace was the first thing observers noticed about the game, as it was a bit different from what's been on display in this tournament.

CJ Moore @CJMooreHoops

This UNC-Auburn pace is everything I thought it would be and I love it.

Seth Davis @SethDavisHoops

I think the shot clock operator can take the rest of the night off.

Sam Vecenie @Sam_Vecenie

North Carolina and Auburn are legitimately not playing the same sport as Texas Tech, Michigan, Oregon and Virginia did last night.

Both teams flew down the court, getting to the basket before the opposition could set up its defense.

This strategy worked for White, although J'Von McCormick showed he can beat players as well just before the half:

CBS Sports @CBSSports


Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

McCormick doesn’t need time to get to the bucket 💨 https://t.co/ASIehuSE8Z

With both teams comfortable with the tempo, the score remained close, and Auburn took a 41-39 lead at the half.

This was especially impressive considering the Tigers were just 5-of-19 from three-point range and 0-of-3 from the free-throw line.

The SEC squad led the country in made three-pointers, but even when its outside shots weren't falling, it found a way to get to the basket and earn a halftime lead.

Once the threes started to fall, the underdogs pulled away and led by double digits for most of the second half. They held off any North Carolina comebacks and closed out the impressive victory.

Auburn is on the brink of the Final Four. Next up is the winner of No. 2 Kentucky and No. 3 Houston on Sunday.