SALT LAKE CITY — There are some things basketball players never forget.
The 99-69 pasting that BYU put on Arizona last year is certainly something the Wildcats have had on their minds ever since. It was the worst-ever defeat suffered by Arizona at the historic McKale Center, and Jimmer Fredette's 49 points were the most points ever that the Wildcats had allowed an opponent to score.
"Obviously it was a special night for myself and for our team to be able to win like that in Arizona," Fredette said.
There are also things that basketball players expect. And the Cougars, when the two teams meet today at 4 p.m. for a rematch at EnergySolutions Arena, don't expect to see an Arizona team that will come out as cold and unready as the one they ran out of the gym last December. The Wildcats are also certain to pay a little more attention to Fredette this time around.
"I'm pretty sure Jimmer is on their scouting report somewhere," BYU coach Dave Rose said.
However, Fredette's getting used to the added attention this year and has handled it fairly well — averaging nearly 23 points per game in leading the Cougars to a 9-0 mark.
"I think they're just going to pressure me really hard and put new guys on me ... but I'm ready for whatever they decide to do, and hopefully just feed off it and get my teammates involved," he said.
The Wildcats that will take the court today are also more mature, more experienced and more confident than the young Arizona team the Cougars faced last season. Second-year Arizona coach Sean Miller is also more familiar and comfortable with his players this season, and has them playing much better defense.
"It's not only a good defensive team, but really a skilled and physically talented offensive team. We'll have our hands full," Rose said.
After a 16-15 record and fourth-place finish in the Pac-10 a year go, the Wildcats won their first five games this season before losing a close battle with No. 6 Kansas in Las Vegas. They've won three straight since.
Arizona is scoring about 83 points per game, is shooting around 51 percent and making nearly 40 percent of its 3-point shots. The Wildcats are also out-rebounding opponents by a whopping 12 boards per game. They get to the line 24 times per game.
Derrick Williams, who scored 17 points against BYU last season, leads the Wildcats in scoring at 20.2 points per game on 67 percent shooting. He's also averaging nearly eight rebounds and has three double-doubles on the season. Solomon Hill is scoring nearly 10 points per contest and Jamelle Horne is adding nine per game. Guard Kyle Fogg is averaging eight points and 3.5 assists. Nick Wise is the only starter gone from Arizona's starting five a year ago.
"There are so many returning guys in this game that you can't help but use last year's game as some kind of motivation factor," Rose said.
For that reason, few expect the No. 18 Cougars (9-0) to dominate offensively today the way they did in Tucson.
"I'm not expecting a game like that this time," Fredette said. "I'm just going in with the expectation of trying to win the game. They have a good team, they've played really well and they have good talent, so they're going to come out with confidence and want to beat us."
In fact, for the Cougars to get another win they'll need another good outing defensively — which has been BYU's strong point so far this season. Opponents are shooting only 37 percent against the Cougars and only 28 percent from 3-point range. The Cougars are out-rebounding teams by more than four boards per game, blocking nearly four shots per game and averaging an incredible 10 steals per game.
"We're going to have to change things up a lot because if (the Wildcats) get comfortable they get really good," Rose said.
Jackson Emery (25 steals) again leads the Cougars defensively, but the smaller and quicker front line of Brandon Davies, Noah Hartsock and Kyle Collinsworth has been very effective as well at forcing turnovers and bad shots.
"We'll just lay it out there and go," Rose said.7 comments on this story
GAME NOTES: Today's game will be the 39th meeting between the two teams, with Arizona leading the series 20-18. The Cougars have a 14-4 series record in Provo, but the Wildcats have won the only other neutral-court meeting. ... Today's game is being played at EnergySolutions Arena because Arizona would not play a return game from last year's game in Tucson at the Marriott Center. ... Sophomore forward Chris Collinsworth (ankle) will miss his fifth straight game. ... Fredette (1,735 points) needs only five points to pass Mekeli Wesley for seventh on BYU's all-time scoring list. If Fredette (412) makes three free throws today he'll pass Mark Bigelow for eighth on BYU's all-time free throws made list.
Cougars on the air
No. 18 BYU (9-0) vs. Arizona (8-1)
Today, 4 p.m.
TV: KJZZ, BYUtv
Radio: 1160 AM, 102.7 FM