BYU men's basketball notebook: Tough night for MWC's top freshmen
PROVO — San Diego State freshman Kawhi Leonard's first game at the Marriott Center wasn't one he'll want to remember.
Leonard, a candidate — along with BYU's Tyler Haws — for Mountain West Conference freshman of the year honors, entered Wednesday's contest against the Cougars leading the league in rebounding (9.6 per game) and offensive rebounding (99 for the season) and was No. 7 in scoring (12.7 ppg).
But he wasn't much of a factor in BYU's 82-68 victory.
Leonard finished with only five rebounds — including none on the offensive end. He hit only 1-of-5 shots from the floor and didn't score his first point until the first minute of the second half.
After the game, SDSU coach Steve Fisher said Leonard felt sick Wednesday morning and got worse as the day, and night, progressed. "He probably shouldn't have played," said Fisher. "Kawhi wasn't Kawhi tonight."
Haws, meanwhile, struggled with his shooting from the field, hitting only 1-for-7, but he knocked down all eight free-throw attempts (he's hit 23 consecutive free throws) and had five rebounds, four assists and two steals.
Another freshman, Cougar forward Brandon Davies, gave BYU a spark off the bench, scoring six points and pulling down three rebounds in 12 minutes of action.
REBOUNDING: BYU knew in order to defeat San Diego State Wednesday night at the Marriott Center, it would have to win the battle of the boards.
Going into every game, Cougar coach Dave Rose lists three keys for his team. In preparation for the long and athletic Aztecs, the first two keys involved one thing — rebounding. That figured, considering SDSU leads the conference in offensive rebounding, defensive rebounding, rebounding margin and offensive rebound percentage.
As it turned out, the Cougars outrebounded SDSU, 38-37, giving up only eight offensive rebounds.
"Rebounding just comes down to wanting it more than the other team," said guard Jackson Emery, who recorded a game-high seven rebounds and finished with 17 points. "We did a good job of making them earn their baskets."
CAN'T STOP FREDETTE: BYU guard Jimmer Fredette turned in another impressive performance against San Diego State on Wednesday with 26 points. He poured in 33 against the Aztecs last month.
Fredette explained that he likes to rise to the occasion against good opponents like SDSU.
"He's good," Fisher said of Fredette. "He's the best in the league. He's as good a guard as I've seen in this league."
GAME OF THE YEAR: BYU's win sets up a big showdown between the No. 13 Cougars and No. 10 New Mexico, which visits the Marriott Center Saturday (2 p.m., Versus).
The Lobos defeated Colorado State, 72-66, Tuesday night in Fort Collins to extend their winning streak to 12 games. UNM (26-3, 12-2) lead the Cougars (26-3, 11-2) in the MWC standings by one-half game.
"We're looking forward to another huge game Saturday," said Fredette.
SELLOUT?: Wednesday's game was reportedly a sellout, but there were plenty of empty seats, particularly in the upper reaches of the Marriott Center. The announced attendance was 20,124.
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