KANSAS CITY, Mo. — At halftime, No. 1 seed North Carolina trails No. 5 seed Auburn, 41-39, as neither team could find much of a scoring advantage through 20 minutes.
Things were close from the beginning.
After UNC led 5-2 early, neither team could separate itself from the other for much of the first half. Both the Tar Heels and Tigers ran the floor at break-neck speed, scoring 14 combined points before even two minutes of gametime had passed.
Even still, head coach Roy Williams motioned for his team to run the floor faster on multiple occasions, looking for a chance to take command over the game. Despite times when both teams played well and went on scoring runs, UNC and Auburn were all tied at 26-26 with seven minutes left the half.
A big 3-pointer by Kenny Williams put the Tar Heels up by three with 6:37 left before the break before the Tigers brought things close again. Neither team led by five points in the half.
For Auburn, Chuma Okeke led the way, scoring 12 first-half points on 5-for-7 shooting, including two 3-pointers to pace the Tigers, along with seven rebounds. In light blue, Coby White led the Tar Heels with nine points, while Kenny Williams had eight and Luke Maye scored seven.
With one more half to play, UNC is looking to capture its 14th 30-win season in the second half. Meanwhile, the Tigers are in striking distance of improving their March record to 10-0, while moving on to only their second Elite Eight in program history.
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