The Tar Heels are the first No. 1 seed to lose in the 2019 NCAA tournament.

By Emily Caron
March 29, 2019

North Carolina became the first No.1 seed to lose in the 2019 NCAA tournament after a 97–80 upset to No. 5 Auburn on Friday night in the Sweet 16. 

The two Midwest Region competitors were locked at 39–39 with less than a minute remaining in the first half when Auburn's J'Von McCormick muscled his way through a muddle of Carolina blue and eased in a layup to give the Tigers a two-point lead entering the break.

The high-flying, fast-paced race continued in the second half, as Auburn took control of the contest with two big blocks on Nassir Little that stymied the Tar Heels' momentum. 

The Tigers' 56-point second half was fueled by an impressive double double from sophomore forward Chuma Okeke, who dropped 20 points and had 11 rebounds, two steals and a block before exiting the game with an apparent leg injury with just over eight minutes remaining. Okeke went 3-of-5 from deep as the Tigers poured in 17 threes in the win.

Senior guard Malik Dunbar posted 13 points for the Tigers on 5-of-10 shooting, while Bryce Brown added another 12 as Auburn advanced to the program's first Elite Eight since 1986.

Freshman Coby White and senior Cameron Johnson set the pace for North Carolina, contributing 15 points apiece. Senior forward Luke Maye added another 13 points and seven boards in what was his final game at UNC. 

Auburn alum and former NBA star Charles Barkley was as excited about his Tigers advancing to the Elite Eight as anyone.

The Tigers will play No. 2 Kentucky on Sunday, March 31.

 

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