OKLAHOMA CITY — Jimmer Fredette scored 37 points to help BYU defeat Florida in the first round of the NCAA West Regional in the Ford Center Thursday, but he could have been more deadly if his outside shoot was working early.
Fredette made a pair of threes in the second overtime to lift the Cougars past the Gators.?To that point, he was just 1 for 6 from long distance and settled for driving to the hoop 18 times where he made just 5.
Afterwards, Fredette explained why he kept the ball and drove on the Florida defense most of the game.
"I felt they weren't helping a lot," said Fredette. " I just tried to use my strength to get around them and once they didn't help, I tried to get into the lane and make layups.?They knew we could kick it out and we have good shooters on this team and were aware of it. I was just getting aggressive and trying to get to the basket and at the end I made a couple of threes."
Assistant head coach Dave Rice credited Florida for erasing BYU's 13-point lead in the second half and giving the Cougars everything they wanted until the end. "They are very long and they really gave us trouble. I credit them for that comeback when they took over the lead."
Rice said Fredette is to a point in his career now where he's seen all kinds of defenses as opponents try to design ways to slow him down, wear him out and stop his game.?
"What Jimmer has done as he's matured, is he reads defenses a lot better and he's able to make adjustments whether it's with his own shot or setting up others."
Fredette said he was aware early that his outside shot — the best in the MWC — was off.?"It was coming up short, I was shooting it short, not shooting it great form the outside. But I was still going to take those shots."
Fredette ended up 3 of 8 from beyond the arc and the Cougars were 10 of 23 from that distance for 43 percent.?Florida got back in the game with the 3-ball but finished 10 of 32 for 31 percent after missing 11 of their first 15 from distance.
Jackson Emery, who is second in the MWC to Fredette in 3-point shooting, was 2-of-5 from that length.?His trey in the first overtime cut a four-point Florida lead to one with just over a minute to play.
The best BYU long ball shooter on the day was Michael Loyd Jr. He went 3 for 5, two of them huge in a two minute span in the first half that led to a personal 10-point run at the Gators.