UNC’s Little game-time call vs. Auburn with flu

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — North Carolina coach Roy Williams said Nassir Little’s availability would be a game-time decision for Friday’s Sweet 16 Midwest Regional matchup against Auburn after the freshman forward experienced flu-like symptoms.

Williams wasn’t optimistic that Little would be able to play against the Tigers.

“I can say it’s hard to make a 180-degree turn because there’s no way in the world he could play if we were playing today,” Williams said Thursday.

“He didn’t feel good last night. He was running a little bit of a temperature, running more of a temperature this morning. He didn’t feel like eating. I didn’t even bring him over here to the arena with us. … He’s sitting there [at breakfast on Thursday] and he has his plate in front of him, and it looked to me like it was hard to pick up that fork, and the last time I looked it wasn’t very heavy.”

Little did not practice Wednesday or Thursday.

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Little was North Carolina’s top reserve and fourth-leading scorer in the regular season, when he averaged 10 points. He is the Tar Heels’ leading scorer through their two NCAA tournament games, averaging 19.5 points.

“Last weekend he was sensational,” Williams said. “If he’s going to play like that all the time, we’re going to miss that greatly because we don’t have anybody who can do those things that he did.”

Little’s absence would likely mean more minutes for junior Brandon Robinson, who is averaging 3.2 points.

“[Little] is just someone who can come off the bench and give you 15, 20 minutes and he’ll be a factor,” senior guard Kenny Williams said. “But if he’s not there, it’s nothing we’re not used to. We’re used to guys not being able to play. So somebody will step up. It’s only a matter of who.”

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