Auburn's Chuma Okeke (4) is done for the remainder of the NCAA Tournament after he tore his ACL in second half of Friday night's Sweet 16 victory over North Carolina. File Photo by BIll Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo
March 30 (UPI) -- The Auburn Tigers will have to battle the Kentucky Wildcats on Sunday in an effort to advance to the Final Four minus one of their best players.
Sophomore forward Chuma Okeke is done for the rest of the Tigers' NCAA tournament run, this after he tore his left ACL in Friday's win over North Carolina in the Sweet 16.
Okeke, who was the top rebounder and third-leading scorer for the Tigers, went down in the second half of the 97-80 win for Auburn, leaving the game leading the Tigers with 20 points.
The forward had an MRI on Saturday morning, and coach Bruce Pearl announced the news in the afternoon.
On Tuesday, Okeke will have surgery to repair the ACL performed by famed surgeon Dr. James Andrews.
He will be with the team in Kansas City when Auburn takes on Kentucky in the Elite Eight looking to advance to the Final Four.
"I know in his head he's going through a roller-coaster of emotions because I went through the same thing last year," Tiger forward Anfernee McLemore said.
"It's heartbreaking knowing that he's out."
Minus Okeke, the Tigers are expected to turn to Danjel Purifoy, Horace Spencer and Austin Wiley to step up in his absence.
"We're going to miss him tomorrow,'' Pearl said.
"We're going to have tough matchups. We lost every single matchup we had against Kentucky in Lexington, every one of them. ... But Chuma always gave us a chance to win [his] matchup."