Without the likes of Chuma Okeke, who reportedly tore his ACL in Auburn's Sweet 16 blowout of UNC, the Tigers needed production from other sources in their Elite 8 matchup against Kentucky. Enter the likes of Bryce Brown and Jared Harper.
Okeke's proven to be Auburn's inspiration, appearing mid-game next to the Tigers' bench in a wheelchair. Given the Tigers were locked in an incredibly tight contest with Kentucky, perhaps it was the lift Auburn needed to get the game to overtime and, ultimately, into the win column.
FINAL: Auburn 77, Kentucky 71. Bruce Pearl is taking the Tigers to their first Final Four in school history. And the 2019 Final Four will now feature three first-time Final Four coaches — Bruce Pearl, Chris Beard and Tony Bennett.— Gary Parrish (@GaryParrishCBS) March 31, 2019
Late in the second half and OT, Auburn separated themselves as the more dangerous team off the dribble, and frankly, the only squad willing and able to make shots from outside five feet. Kentucky went cold, and Harper took over in the extra session.
Brown and Harper combined for 46 points in the contest, and even without one of their best interior defenders in Okeke, provided just enough resistance against PJ Washington and Reid Travis to disrupt the Wildcats' offensive strategy.
Auburn's run started in the SEC Tournament, during which they blitzed the opposition on their way to a conference crown. As it turns out, that was just the beginning of their expectations being fulfilled. Bruce Pearl's coached his tail off all tournament, and they'll represent their conference in the Final Four in Minneapolis.