Auburn fond of 3-pointer

By: Bob Holt
Published: Wednesday, February 20, 2019
Auburn forward Chuma Okeke, left, and guard Bryce Brown (2) celebrate after Auburn beat Vanderbilt 64-53 in an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 16, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
Auburn forward Chuma Okeke, left, and guard Bryce Brown (2) celebrate after Auburn beat Vanderbilt 64-53 in an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 16, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

AUBURN, Ala. -- No SEC basketball team takes and makes three-pointers like Auburn.

The Tigers' 735 attempts are 100 more than Florida, which is second among SEC teams at 635. Auburn's 274 made three-pointers are 58 more than Florida's 216.

3 BY 5

Arkansas freshman Isaiah Joe leads the SEC with 87 three-point baskets, but Auburn has five players in the top 26 in the conference and is first in the SEC in three-pointers made (274) and attempted (735).

Here is a rundown of Auburn’s top three-pointer shooters the Razorbacks will face tonight:

SEC RANK;PLAYER;3PT-3PTA

2;Bryce Brown;85-210

5;Jared Harper;65-166

24;Chuma Okeke;31-89

25;Malik Dunbar;30-78

26;Samir Doughty;29-68

Arkansas, which plays the Tigers at Auburn Arena tonight, has 85 fewer made three-pointers (189) than Auburn and 171 fewer attempts (564).

Of the Tigers' 2,042 points, 822 (40.3 percent) have come from shots behind the arc. For the season 46.9 percent of their shots are three-pointers -- 48.6 percent in SEC games.

"I think they're one of the hardest teams in college basketball to defend," said Florida Coach Mike White, whose Gators lost to Auburn 76-62 when the Tigers hit 9 of 25 three-pointers. "It starts when they cross half-court with Bryce Brown. He's got that logo range. Jared Harper does as well."

Brown, a 6-3 senior, has hit 85 of of 210 three-pointers (40.5 percent) this season and an Auburn career-record 326 of 821 (38.8 percent). Harper, a 5-11 junior, has hit 65 of 166 this season (39.2 percent) and ranks 10th on Auburn's career list with 180 of 495 (36.4 percent).

Auburn has plenty of other dangerous three-pointers shooters, too.

Chuma Okeke, a 6-8 sophomore, is averaging 6.8 rebounds, but has hit 31 of 89 three-pointers. Malik Dunbar, a 6-6 senior, has hit 30 of 78. Samir Doughty, a 6-4 junior, has hit 29 of 68. Anfernee McLemore, a 6-7 junior with a team-high 33 blocked shots, has hit 18 of 65 three-pointers.

"They're going to have five guys on the court the majority of the time that can all shoot threes," Vanderbilt Coach Bryce Drew said of the Tigers, who hit 9 of 25 three-pointers in beating the Commodores 64-53 on Saturday. "We just did the best we could to find their shooters and try to contest.

"At the end if the day, sometimes it just boils down to if they're making them or not making them."

Auburn's 29.4 three-point attempts per game ranks fifth nationally.

They're the most attempts one of Tigers Coach Bruce Pearl's SEC teams have averaged in a combined 11 seasons at Tennessee and Auburn. The previous high was 26.7 attempts last season when the Tigers shared the SEC championship with the Vols.

Why does Pearl like to shoot so many three-pointers?

"The first reason is it's worth one more than two," Pearl said. "It's just simple math.

"Second thing is, sometimes if you have a three-point shot it's an open shot. It's not contested and there's no contact.

"It's like a free throw. There's nobody that's guarding you at the foul line. If there's nobody challenging your [three-point] shot, you should try to take it, because there's so much contact in the game on other shots.

"Those are the two reasons I've always been a believer in the three ball."

In SEC games, Auburn is averaging 11.5 three-point baskets per game and has hit 138 of 345 attempts for 40 percent.

Arkansas ranks fifth in the SEC and 114th nationally in three-point defense at 33.2 percent.

"Without a doubt we've got to be in constant contact, talking on defense, communicating, and making sure they shoot contested shots, not wide-open shots," Razorbacks Coach Mike Anderson said of guarding the perimeter against Auburn. "When you've got a guy like Brown, I mean, his range is pretty unlimited. The Harper kid, he's a guy that can shoot it. The Doughty kid, he's a pretty good shooter, too.

"So I think our guys' heads have got to be on a swivel."

Kentucky won 82-80 at Auburn after Brown, Harper and Okeke combined to hit 4 of 6 three-pointers -- Brown also hit three free throws when he was fouled on an attempt from beyond the arc -- in an 8:32 span to erase a 15-point deficit and give the Tigers an 80-79 lead with 32 seconds left.

"There's all kinds of ways of playing this game, and they put a heavy emphasis on the three-point shot, and probably rightfully so for their team," Kentucky Coach John Calipari said. "We had them down pretty good at Auburn, and all of a sudden they make three or four threes in a row and it's anybody's ballgame."

Auburn hit 16 of a season-high 41 three-point attempts in a 92-58 victory over Missouri.

"I think they take pride in shooting threes, and their threes were falling against us that night," Missouri Coach Cuonzo Martin said. "You take away those three-point shots, make them play in the half court, make them do a second or third pass, they're a different team.

"But when they're making shots and going fast, they're as good as anybody no question."

Drew said having so many three-point threats allows the Tigers to spread the floor and create tough matchups for bigger opponents.

"It's your fear as a coach that you don't want to just take away the three, because they have capable drivers that are able to get right by you," Drew said. "They can get to the rim and finish."

Anderson said the Razorbacks have to be ready to defend the basket and make stops that can lead to scoring points in transition.

"Make them drive it," Anderson said. " Then build a wall where we can hopefully take advantage of the open floor."

Brown and Harper have been the go-to guys for Pearl's Tigers.

"I think it does have to do with your roster a little bit and the guys that you're coaching," Pearl said of his three-point shooting approach. "My last couple of years at Tennessee I didn't have quite as good a shooting teams.

"I've had Bryce Brown for four years, and he's a pretty good shooter. Jared Harper's a pretty good shooter. It's about going to your kids' strengths."

Arkansas men vs Auburn

WHEN 7:30 p.m. Central

WHERE Auburn Arena, Auburn, Ala.

RECORDS Arkansas 14-11, 5-7 SEC; Auburn 17-8, 6-6

SERIES Arkansas leads 34-18.

RADIO Razorback Sports Network

TELEVISION SEC Network

PROBABLE STARTING LINEUPS

AUBURN

POS. NAME, HT., YR.;PPG;RPG

G Bryce Brown, 6-3;Sr.;16.2;2.1

G Jared Harper, 6-0;Jr.;15.4;2.9

G Samir Doughty, 6-4;Jr.;7.6;3.5

F Chuma Okeke, 6-8;So.;11,2;6.8

F Anfernee McLemore, 6-7;Jr.;6.8;4.3

COACH Bruce Pearl (87-70 in five seasons at Auburn, 549-215 in 25 seasons overall).

ARKANSAS

POS. NAME, HT., YR.;PPG;RPG

G Jalen Harris, 6-2;So.;8.8;2.8

G Isaiah Joe, 6-5,;Fr.;13.8;2.6

G Mason Jones, 6-5;So.;14.4;4.2

F Daniel Gafford, 6-11;So.;16.6;8.8

F Adrio Bailey, 6-6;Jr.;6.;3.3

COACH Mike Anderson (165-97 in eight seasons at Arkansas, 365-195 in 17 seasons overall)

TEAM COMPARISON

Auburn;Arkansas

81.7;Points for;76.9

67.9;Points against;73.2

+1.9;Rebound margin;-3.7

+5.2;Turnover margin;+2.6

45.3;FG pct.;44.9

37.3;3-PT pct.;33.5

70.0;FT pct.;66.3

CHALK TALK Arkansas has lost three consecutive games after putting together a four-game SEC winning streak ... The Razorbacks are 10-2 in their last 12 games against Auburn, but the teams are each 2-2 in the last four meetings ... Arkansas sophomore forward Daniel Gafford is shooting 66.1 percent (162 of 245) from the field to lead the SEC and ranks fifth nationally ... Auburn is forcing opponents into an average of 18.3 turnovers per game ... Auburn is 12-2 at home this season with the losses to Kentucky 82-80 and Ole Miss 60-55 ... Arkansas is 12-13 at Auburn, including 5-1 in its last six games there. ... Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson has an 8-2 record vs Auburn.

-- Bob Holt

Sports on 02/20/2019

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