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Auburn vs Ole Miss
Feb 23, 2022; Auburn, AL, USA; Zep Jasper (12) drives the ball in during the game between Auburn and Ole Miss at Auburn Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jacob Taylor/AU Athletics

Jasper's Big Scoring Night Helps Auburn Prevail Over Ole Miss

AUBURN, Alabama (EETV) – No. 3 Auburn took care of business against the Ole Miss Rebels, 77-64, on Wednesday with big performances from starters Zep Jasper and Walker Kessler. Auburn entered tonight’s game coming off an upset loss at unranked Florida last Saturday and looked to get back on the right track.

The Tigers jumped out to a quick 7-2 lead, with Wendell Green Jr. making a difference off the bench early. Ole Miss climbed back into it with plays around the basket, along with some mid-range jumpers, erasing AU’s lead, tying the game 9-9. Both teams were in steady offensive grooves early, scoring back and forth. Green Jr. put a quick stop to that Ole Miss run by knocking down two deep, contested three pointers to bump the Tigers lead up again. Devan Cambridge and Walker Kessler got in on the scoring mid-first half, as well.

Halfway through the half, starting guard Zep Jasper, who has struggled in Auburn’s last two contests with early foul trouble, entered the game and made a major difference on both ends of the floor. The senior guard, whose game is typically fueled by his game on the defensive end, came out firing on offensive end. Jasper hit a mid-range jumper late in the shot clock and followed up with two three pointers, which stretched the Auburn lead to nine.

Ole Miss was trying to keep up with the fast-paced Auburn offense. James White and Matthew Murrell added two threes for the Rebels, making the score 30-26 Auburn. An end-of-half run made possible by layups from Green Jr. and Cambridge, and a big jam from Dylan Cardwell, grew Auburn’s lead to 43-31 at the half.

The game was a battle the entire second half. A hustling Ole Miss defense was doing all they could to stop Auburn’s fierce offensive attack, but the Tiger’s push was too much to be stopped. Jasper said that in its last couple games, the Auburn offense had been, “in a slump, and we wanted to change that.” Jasper and his team did exactly that in the second half. Jasper finished with a season-high 15 points, on 4-5 shooting from three.

Head Coach Bruce Pearl talked about Jasper’s breakout performance, saying, “I had a conversation with him [Zep] about trying to be more aggressive offensively. He is a good shooter. He is just such an unselfish kid, and I told him to look at the basket some more…. Zep made the shots; Zep made the plays.”

Walker Kessler’s performance tonight was a special one as well. With his eight blocks tonight, Kessler now holds the Auburn basketball single season record for blocks. He was a mere two blocks away from his third triple-double of the season with points, rebounds, and blocks.

When asked about Kessler’s record-breaking performance, Pearl said, “Walker is the best shot blocker that I’ve ever coached, and I told him after the game that I want more!”

Auburn seemed to overcome their previous offensive “slump” tonight, with four players scoring in double figures. Jabari Smith finished with 15 points, nine rebounds and five assists. This is Smith’s 15th game this season scoring 15+ points. Green Jr., coming off a 2-10 FG shooting game on Saturday against Florida, bounced back tonight with 14 points, five rebounds, and four assists.

With the win, Auburn moves its record to 25-3 on the season and 13-2 in SEC play. Auburn only has three games left to play in the regular season. Up next for Zep Jasper and the Tigers is the No. 17 ranked Tennessee Volunteers on Saturday in Knoxville at 3:00 pm CST on ESPN.