Observations: Auburn 77, Ole Miss 64
After Bruce Pearl challenged them to step up, Zep Jasper and Wendell Green Jr. led the way for Auburn in a bounce-back win at home.
PG Wendell Green Jr. (Jacob Taylor/Auburn Athletics)
It started with a text, then a taunt.
Earlier in the week, Bruce Pearl texted Zep Jasper. His starting point guard had been one of the nation’s best at on-ball defending and avoiding turnovers this season. But he was averaging just 3.0 points per game in conference play and hadn’t hit multiple shots in a contest in almost a full month.
“He hit me with a text message like two days ago and told me he thinks I should be more aggressive and be looking for my shot and try to open it up for other guys, because they kind of key on other guys,” Jasper said. “They don’t key on me to look to take a shot.”
Pearl then went a different route with his other point guard. Since winning SEC Player of the Week at the first of February, Wendell Green Jr. was shooting 33.3% percent from the field and just 16.7% on 3-pointers.
“We've been teasing Wendell big time, you know?” Pearl said. “He and Jabari (Smith) always shoot before the game. I told him, 'That actually used to be a competitive event. Now it's no contest, Wen. You can't even challenge Jabari.'
“And he just looked over at me.”
Green responded to his coach’s teasing by hitting his first three 3-pointers Wednesday night against Ole Miss — all in a span of 4:03. Jasper hit his first three shots from the floor, too, getting a pull-up mid-range jumper followed by back-to-back triples. He would finish 4-5 from beyond the arc.
“I know he can do it,” Green said of Jasper. “He averaged 15 (points per game) last year, so it’s not a surprise to me when he does make shots. It’s something I know he can do. I tell him to do it too more often, so hopefully we can just keep that going, you know, and he just keeps getting his confidence up and keep doing what he’s doing.”
Together, Auburn’s point guards combined for 29 points and five assists in a 77-64 bounce-back victory over Ole Miss.
Sure, the Tigers’ superstar frontcourt of Smith and Walker Kessler combined for 30 points and 19 rebounds, plus eight more blocks that gave Kessler the school’s new single-season record.
But the bigger story of the game was the resurgence of Green and the sudden offensive explosion from Jasper. Point guard play is critical in the postseason, and if the Tigers can get that kind of production from their floor generals — they are in a much better spot to make a deep run.
Starting with Jasper and Green, here are five Observations from Auburn’s second win over Ole Miss this season, plus the Rotation Charts, Nerd Stats and the Quote of the Night.
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