As Auburn is gearing up to compete against the number two seed Kentucky for a spot in the Final Four on Sunday, they will be doing so without their secret weapon Chuma Okeke. The 6’8, 230 lbs. Sophomore forward hailing from Atlanta, Georgia, tore his left ACL in Auburn’s upset of the number one seed North Carolina in the Sweet Sixteen. Okeke quite frankly single handedly wiped the floor with the Tar Heels, being the leading scorer for the Tigers with 20 points, along with being the top rebounder. Okeke is scheduled to have surgery Tuesday with a renowned orthopedic surgeon, but until then he will have to painstakingly watch from the sidelines as his team faces off with the Kentucky Wildcats, a team Auburn has fallen to twice already. Tigers coach Bruce Pearl commented, “We’re going to miss him tomorrow. 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.” Even Kentucky coach John Calipari sent his condolences to the Tigers, Okeke, and Okeke’s family, “So, I feel bad for him. Feel bad for his family and his teammates.”
Whether or not the Tigers will be able to overcome the Wildcats is still up in the air, but one thing is for sure: the Tigers are fired up and are going to fight until the bitter end for their teammate who cannot fight beside them on the court.
Claire Coburn is an Intern Writer for Pub Sports Radio