Chuma Okeke had 20 points and 11 rebounds before leaving with a leg injury and Auburn used another high-energy run to take down top-seeded North Carolina 97-80 in a Midwest Region semifinal on Friday night at Kansas City, Mo.
Fifth-seeded Auburn (29-9) will next face second-seeded Kentucky, which pulled out a 62-58 victory over Houston later Friday in the second semifinal.
The Tigers defeated Kansas 89-75 to reach the Sweet 16. Kansas is No. 2 all-time in wins, and North Carolina is third. Kentucky leads the all-time list. If Auburn wins its next game, the Tigers will reach the Final Four for the first time in program history.
Auburn was led by Okeke, who left the game with a left knee injury with 8:08 remaining and Auburn up 76-62. He did not return. He was Auburn’s third-leading scorer this season with 11.8 points per game, and leading rebounder with 6.7 per game. Cameron Johnson and Coby White scored 15 points apiece to lead North Carolina (29-7).
No. 2 Kentucky 62, No. 3 Houston 58
Tyler Herro was the hero as Kentucky escaped with a win over Houston in the other regional semifinal in Kansas City, Mo. The Wildcats next will face fifth-seeded Auburn.
Herro hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 25.8 seconds left, then drained a pair of free throws with 13.7 seconds remaining to ice the victory. Herro led the Wildcats with 19 points.
Kentucky (30-6) opened the second half with a bucket for its largest lead of the game, 39-26, but the Cougars (33-4) chipped away, eventually tying the score at 49-all with 4:24 left. Four consecutive free throws gave the Wildcats the lead with just over two minutes left.
No. 1 Duke 75, No. 4 Virginia Tech 73
Zion Williamson scored 23 points and Tre Jones hit five 3-point baskets on the way to 22 points as Duke beat Virginia Tech in a wild NCAA Tournament semifinal in Washington, D.C. The Blue Devils next face second-seeded Michigan State.
Virginia Tech (26-9) missed three shots in the final 10 seconds, including a pair of 3-point attempts.
RJ Barrett scored 15 of his 18 points in the second half and also finished with 11 assists as the Blue Devils (31-6) returned to a regional final for the second year in a row.
No. 2 Michigan State 80, No. 3 LSU 63
Freshmen Aaron Henry and Gabe Brown had career nights, lifting Michigan State past LSU in the East Region semifinals in Washington, D.C.
Henry and Brown scored career-highs with Henry pouring in 20 and Brown scoring 15 as the Spartans (31-6) advance to Sunday’s regional final, where they’ll play No. 1 Duke.
Cassius Winston scored 17 and handed out eight assists for Michigan State while Xavier Tillman chipped in 12 points and eight rebounds. Tremont Waters scored 23 points to lead LSU (28-7).
—Field Level Media