War Eagle Extra

Auburn's Barrett goes old school

Among his Auburn teammates, Rasheem Barrett is the old man of the group.

The Tigers guard likes to wear his basketball socks high. He doesn’t tilt the seat way back when he drives. He listens to classical and jazz music and doesn’t feel the necessity to turn his radio up to unnecessary volumes.

“Just put it on Level 3 or Level 4, and I’m good,” he said.

His basketball game has an old-school charm as well, and he has been making it work lately.

In his past two home games, Barrett has scored 29 and 27 points, a hot streak he hopes continues when Auburn (14-9, 3-5 SEC) hosts Arkansas at 8 tonight in Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum.

The senior has thrived by resurrecting a lost art: the mid-range jumper.

Barrett scored a career-high 29 against Vanderbilt on Jan. 31, passing his previous best set of 28 against Jacksonville State during his freshman year.

Against Tennessee on Saturday, he scored 27 points despite sinking only one 3-pointer. He went 12-for-19 from the field, making an array of leaners, floaters and in-between jumpers, all in the 10- to 12-foot range.

“You don’t see that a lot in this game anymore, those guys who can get to that mid-point and make that pull-up jump shot,” Auburn coach Jeff Lebo said. “But that’s his shot.”

Barrett developed the shot in his younger days growing up outside of Atlanta. His father, Steve, hammered home how effective a mid-range jumper would be.

“He said, ‘One day, son, it’s going to come in handy,’” Barrett said. “You know when you’re a child, all you want to do is shoot 3s or go to the hole. I was like, ‘Mid-range? C’mon, Dad. I don’t want to do that.’

“And I see it now these days. It comes in handy. It works.”

That’s mostly because nobody sees it coming, not since the advent of the 3-point line, an innovation that radically altered shot selection in the college game.

The 3-pointer offers a greater reward. The dunk offers greater satisfaction.

The mid-range jumper? Few coaches want their players taking that shot. But few defenders expect it.

“Most guys, they’re going to guard you all the way to the hoop or they are afraid you’re going to shoot 3s,” Barrett said. “But a lot of them aren’t expecting you to pull up, because you just take somebody off the dribble — one, two, pop. They never know when you pull up, so that’s why I think it’s very effective.”

At 6-foot-5, 220 pounds, Barrett has another advantage: bulk. He uses his body to dribble from the 3-point line to his range and, when necessary, clear enough space to get off his shot.

“He likes to bully people,” forward Lucas Hargrove said. “With his body frame, he can do that.”

Barrett has helped Auburn avoid fading into irrelevance in SEC play. Fresh off the one-point victory against Tennessee, the Tigers have home games this week against slumping Arkansas (13-8, 1-7), a team they beat by 22 in Fayetteville 2 1/2 weeks ago, and Mississippi State.

Both are crucial matchups if Auburn has any hope of making a postseason tournament for the first time since 2003.

If the Tigers do make a run, it might be a senior playing an old man’s game who leads the way.

Not that they mind.

“Old man’s, new man’s — as long as it works,” Hargrove said, “Don’t matter to me.”

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