After Auburn dismantled North Carolina 97-80 Friday night in Kansas City and put six players in double figures to move into Sunday’s Elite Eight, coach Bruce Pearl immediately got a couple of questions relating to Kentucky — which is playing Houston now
Q. The second straight defeat of a blue blood. You have a chance, depending on if Kentucky wins, on knocking off the top three schools all time in wins. What do you think about that?
BRUCE PEARL: I take it one at a time. You know, for me seeing Houston and Kentucky in a Sweet 16 game, I was at Boston College in 1982 — actually it was ’81. I think we played a Hakeem Olajuwon in St. Louis for the Midwest Regional Championship. To me, Houston is kind of a blue blood also because of the great Guy Lewis, incredible rich and history of tradition. It will be a challenge regardless who advances.
Q. Bruce, understanding that it’s still early, how do you feel about Sunday’s matchup, whether it’s Houston or whether it’s Kentucky?
BRUCE PEARL: We played Kentucky, and they physically overwhelmed us in Lexington. We actually went into that game playing pretty well, and we got manhandled.
We haven’t lost since that game in late February. The lesson there was we didn’t — because we respect Kentucky so much and we recognize they had a great night, these guys weren’t destroyed. Kentucky really beat us. We didn’t play great, but we got it handed to us because they played so well.
I know Kelvin Sampson is a great coach, one of the most underrated coaches in our game, and I would say this is going to be a great matchup of two really good defenses. Coach Cal does a phenomenal job with his defense. Both teams play hard. I don’t think we’ll get near 97 or 80.