Okeke’s presence felt at Final Four

Big Tournament

KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI – MARCH 31: J’Von McCormick #12, Chuma Okeke #5 and Austin Wiley #50 of the Auburn Tigers celebrate after their 77-71 win over the Kentucky Wildcats in the 2019 NCAA Basketball Tournament Midwest Regional at Sprint Center on March 31, 2019 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. (AP) — Chuma Okeke’s presence is still being at the Final Four, even though the Auburn standout was forced to stay behind after having surgery Tuesday to repair the torn ACL in his left knee.

Several teammates have written his initials or number on their gear, and Okeke’s locker remained empty when the Tigers arrived Thursday. Samir Doughty took advantage of that fact by lounging in it while dozens of reporters packed into the cramped dressing room.

Okeke was having a big game in the Tigers’ semifinal win over North Carolina when his knee buckled underneath the basket. He was planning to watch his team’s regional final against Kentucky from his hotel room but changed his mind, arriving in a wheelchair to watch the second half near the bench.

Dr. James Andrews performed the surgery this week in Florida.

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