Auburn offense spreads the wealth in dominant victory over North Carolina
The Auburn Tigers are headed to the Elite Eight after a 97-80 victory over one seed North Carolina. The game was fast paced as expected going back and forth during the first half, then Auburn pulled away in the second half. What was not expected was where the Auburn offense came from.
Auburn’s leading scorer was Chuma Okeke with 20 points before he left the game with a potentially serious knee injury. Many would have predicted that Okeke would be Auburn’s leading scorer, but they would not have guessed that six Tigers would be in double figures and Jared Harper would not be one.
Malik Dunbar scored 13, Bryce Brown and Danjel Purifoy scored 12 while Samir Doughty and J’von McCormick contributed 10 points off the bench. Jared Harper scored nine respectively.
With Brown and Harper only combining for two points in the first half, McCormick scored 10 and Dunbar provided eight points to give Auburn enough of a spark for Auburn to carry a 41-39 lead into halftime.
It was Bryce Brown and Danjel Purifoy who stepped up in the second half with both scoring 12 points. Purifoy made three consecutive three-pointers from the same spot on successive possessions which gave Auburn a 73-57 lead with under 10 minutes to go.
Another unexpected source of scoring for the Tigers was second chance points where they scored 10 points off of 10 offensive rebounds. Auburn was only out-rebounded by four in the game which was key for Auburn coming into the game. The Tar Heels averaged almost 10 more rebounds per game than Auburn leading up to the game. Auburn recorded two more than their season average while holding North Carolina to three less than their season average.
A majority of the offensive boards came from Okeke and Dunbar with Okeke grabbing four and Dunbar handling two. All but one came in the first half when Auburn was making their presence felt inside.
The area which was expected to be Auburn’s strength was points off turnovers. They forced 14 turnovers which led to 19 points.
Auburn will face off against Kentucky on Sunday at 1:20 p.m. CT on CBS for a chance at a Final Four trip.