AP NEWS
Related topics

NCAA Latest: Injured Auburn star not expected at Final Four

April 5, 2019

The Latest on the Final Four (all times local):

Noon

Injured Auburn star Chuma Okeke is not expected to travel to Minneapolis to be with the team when it plays Virginia in the Final Four on Saturday.

Okeke injured his knee a week ago in the Sweet 16 victory against North Carolina. He had surgery in Birmingham, Alabama, to repair a torn knee ligament on Tuesday. An Auburn spokesman said Friday the team was not expecting Okeke to make the trip.

Auburn players have rallied around Okeke, the team’s leading scorer. Malik Dunbar wore Okeke’s No. 5 jersey during warmups for the Elite Eight game against Kentucky and says he plans to do the same before the Virginia game.

___

11:35 a.m.

Charles Barkley isn’t the only big-name fan of Auburn.

Golden State Warriors star Steph Curry surprised the Tigers — and another Under Armour-sponsored school, Texas Tech — with pairs of his new sneakers for their Final Four appearance on Saturday night. Curry recorded videos for both of the teams and wished them well as they compete in the national semifinals.

“It was amazing. He gave us a special shoutout,” Tigers star Bryce Brown said. “He said he was an underdog like us, that this run was like the run he was on with Davidson.”

Before becoming an NBA star, Curry led tiny Davidson to the Elite Eight of the 2008 tournament.

Curry is one of Brown’s favorite players, so getting a shout-out? “That meant a lot,” he said.

— Dave Skretta reporting from Minneapolis.

___

11:15 a.m.

Auburn star Jared Harper and some of his teammates are dealing with an illness that he hopes will be better by Saturday night.

Harper started feeling sick Thursday night and began taking some medicine, and team doctors gave him a shot Friday morning. He was still sniffling during his media rounds before taking the floor for the Tigers’ open practice ahead of their semifinal date with Virginia.

Fellow guard Bryce Brown felt the worst of it on Thursday, but was on the rebound Friday.

“We’ve got a bunch of guys that are sniffling and hacking and coughing, be we don’t play today,” coach Bruce Pearl said.

The flu bug swept through North Carolina last weekend in Kansas City, where the Tigers knocked off the Tar Heels in the regional semifinal. It’s unclear whether Harper may have gotten the same bug.

Harper is averaging 15.4 points and 5.4 assists.

— Dave Skretta reporting from Minneapolis.

___

11 a.m.

Basketball fans have lined up early for the first entry into U.S. Bank Stadium, as the Final Four teams hold open-to-the-public workouts.

Auburn takes the court first, followed by Virginia, Texas Tech and Michigan State. There’s no charge to attend the practices. The games, of course, come at a cost. According to secondary market ticket seller StubHub, as of Friday morning, the lowest price for the semifinal games on Saturday evening is $385.

U.S. Bank Stadium opened in 2016, the home of the Minnesota Vikings and the host of the Super Bowl after the 2017 NFL season. The seating capacity has been expanded for the Final Four to 72,000.

— Dave Campbell reporting from Minneapolis.

___

More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/MarchMadness and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25