March 31 (UPI) -- The Auburn Tigers reached the Elite Eight for the first time in school history after defeating the Kentucky Wildcats 77-71 in overtime Sunday at the Sprint Center in Kansas City.
The Tigers' victory came without forward Chuma Okeke, who suffered a major knee injury against the North Carolina Tar Heels in the Sweet 16. Okeke was ruled out for the rest of the tournament with a torn ACL. He was absent from the Auburn bench until the under-16 media timeout in the second half, when his wheelchair was pushed to the Tigers' sideline to a large ovation.
Jared Harper led fifth-seeded Auburn with 26 points, five assists and four rebounds. Bryce Brown added 24 points and Anfernee McLemore made key plays in the extra frame to lead the Tigers to victory. He had eight points and five rebounds.
Auburn (30-9) erased a 10-point deficit and eventually forced overtime after Harper's layup tied the game with 38 seconds remaining. He notched the Tigers' first four points in OT. Kentucky's Ashton Hagans scored for the Wildcats, but McLemore tallied back-to-back baskets that forced Kentucky to speed up its pace.
The Wildcats (30-7), trailing 68-62 with 1:49 left, couldn't recover in time.
PJ Washington led Kentucky with 28 points (10-of-18 shooting) and 13 rebounds. Keldon Johnson also had a double-double with 14 points and 10 boards. Hagans added 10 points, five rebounds and three assists.
Reid Travis registered nine points and six rebounds for the Wildcats. Tyler Herro couldn't regain his shooting form from Kentucky's Sweet 16 victory over Houston, going 3-of-11 from the field. He had seven points on 1-of-5 shooting from 3-point territory with six assists.
The Tigers, who reached the NCAA tournament's Elite Eight for the first time in 33 years, travel to Minneapolis for the Final Four. Auburn takes on South Region champion and No. 1 seed Virginia. The Cavaliers defeated Purdue in overtime Saturday night.