PROVO — All of the hoopla and excitement that the BYU basketball team and star guard Jimmer Fredette have experienced the past few days in Glens Falls, N.Y., will be spoiled if the Cougars don't take care of business tonight.
Sure, the trip back to Fredette's hometown is partly to honor the preseason All-American for his outstanding career and to reward him for choosing to play college basketball more than 2,000 miles away from home.
The main reason the No. 18 Cougars (8-0) will take the court tonight against Vermont (6-1) at the Glens Falls Civic Center, however, is to preserve their perfect record and national ranking.
"Obviously we're here to play a game against a very good opponent, and we're here to win it so that's what we're focused on," Fredette said.
Of course, the frenzied Glens Falls fans are hoping to see Fredette do what he's done in past games at the Civic Center, when playing there in high school, and dump 30 points or so on the Catamounts. Fredette says he won't do anything special to try to put on a show, other than doing what it takes to help the Cougars be victorious once again.
"I'm not too concerned about how I play," Fredette said. "I just want to get the win. I think ultimately that's what the fans want as well."
Expect the Catamounts to do everything possible to spoil Fredette's show. In recent games, teams are double- and triple-teaming BYU's leading scorer. He's scored only 13 and 16 points, respectively, in his last two games under constant hounding and battering.
"They're guarding him, and he's working really hard ... and I'm sure they'll come after him again on Wednesday night," BYU coach Dave Rose said.
If the Catamounts employ the same strategy, Fredette has one in response.
"You know that when three guys are on you that someone else is open," he said.
Sophomore center Brandon Davies came to the rescue against Creighton with a career-high 24 points and scored the team's final 13 points. In a win last weekend over Hawaii, both Stephen Rogers (13 points) and Logan Magnusson (11 points) had career games.
"We've had guys that have stepped up in absence of me scoring," Fredette said.
Vermont, with an RPI of 40 and ranked No. 14 in a mid-major poll, is off to its best start in more than 50 years. The Catamounts, coached by Mike Lonergan, shoot nearly 50 percent from the floor and more than 42 percent on 3-pointers. Evan Field leads the team in scoring (20.9 points per game), with Joey Accaoui (13.3 ppg) and Matt Glass (11 ppg) averaging in double digits as well. Brian Voelkel (9.7 rebounds per game and 5.3 assists per game) is the team's Mr. Scrappy.7 comments on this story
"Vermont is a good team ... they are a legit NCAA Tournament-type team," Rose said.
Tonight's game is BYU's fifth-straight away from the Marriott Center and the Cougars — with upcoming games against Arizona, Weber State and UCLA — won't play in Provo again until Dec. 23 when they take on the UTEP Miners. So far, the Cougars are handling the tough stretch and fatigue that goes with the travel well.
"I think we've got pretty experienced guys and they know the challenge," Rose said.