Senior guard, teammates look to boost Auburn's 3-point shooting

Senior guard, teammates look to boost Auburn’s 3-point shooting

AUBURN, Alabama–The 2021-22 Auburn basketball team finished first in the SEC regular season standings, but was in the middle of the pack when it came to three-point percentage. One of the team’s returning players predicts that the Tigers will do a better job with their long-range shooting this season.

Zep Jasper noted that opponents were able to change their defensive strategy vs. Auburn late in the season when figuring out that the Tigers “weren’t a great three-point shooting team.” That helped contribute to a late season slump and early exits from the SEC and NCAA Tournaments, especially for a team that was ranked No. 1 nationally during the regular season.

The numbers back up the senior guard’s point. Auburn made just 31.8 percent of its treys, which was only good enough for seventh among SEC teams. Tennessee was the league leader for the category at 35.9 percent.

During lunch time on Tuesday the fifth-year senior could be found at AU’s practice facility working on making three-pointers, something he did at 36.6 percent last year during his first season with the Tigers.

“This year I feel like everyone is really focused on their three-point shot,” said Jasper, who made the move to the SEC from College of Charleston where he was more of a scorer than he was last season for the Tigers when he averaged 5.1 points per contest.

Coach Bruce Pearl has encouraged Jasper to take more long range shots than he did last season when he averaged just over two three-point attempts per game. “I am being more aggressive in practice,” Jasper said. “I am taking my shots every day and I have got a good touch. I feel like if I take more threes this year it will open up a window for our guards.

“I should have taken more shots last year, but it is a new year, a new me and the same intensity,” Jasper added. “I feel like I can help this team out in so many ways, especially being a veteran on this team.”

On Auburn’s exhibition tour to Israel in August, Jasper launched seven three-pointers and made four.

Zep Jasper (12) played in 32 games last season for the Tigers, all as a starter. (Photo: Adam Sparks/Inside the Auburn Tigers, 247Sports)

Auburn’s top three-point shooter last season for makes, Jabari Smith, has moved on to the NBA after hitting 79-188 for 42 percent. Among players who took at least 10 treys Lior Berman was the most accurate hitting 47.1 percent. He will be back as a senior.

Jasper said he is looking forward to seeing what the 2022-23 Tigers can do whether he is playing point guard or the two-guard role. “Yes, I might do a little bit more this year,” he says of being a two guard. “I am a combo guard. I can play point guard, shooting guard or small forward, you know, and help this team in so many different ways.”

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