SALT LAKE CITY — Twelve years ago, BYU forward Bret Jepson crossed midcourt and took a hit to the face from Arizona center Eugene Edgerson, a blow that eventually ended Jepson's basketball career.
Saturday's game between the Cougars and Wildcats at EnergySolutions Arena wasn't nearly as dirty as that play in 1998 at the Marriott Center, but the battle was definitely on the physical side.
"Everybody is trying to play us physical, that's what they want to do," BYU captain Jimmer Fredette said. "But we want to be a physical team as well. But they were ready to play and they were very, very physical with us and we handled it pretty well."
Seven minutes into the game BYU's starting forward Noah Hartsock lay sprawled out with a loose tooth, cut mouth and no memory of how he got there, or even where or who he was. He was the victim of a hard hit to the chops while fighting for a loose rebound under Arizona's basketball.
The official diagnosis is that Hartsock suffered a concussion and needed stitches inside his mouth, possibly some dental work.
"At halftime he didn't really know where he was, but after the game he was a little bit better," Cougars coach Dave Rose said. "But I don't think it will be very good for finals next week. He took quite a shot."
Midway through the second half, when the Wildcats were making a minor charge, the momentum turned back BYU's way when Jackson Emery was the victim of a high elbow after a made free throw by Arizona. He too needed some time to regroup and shake off the cobwebs before sinking two free throws.
"I knew it was going to be a battle. We fought hard and we came out on top," said BYU's James Anderson, who contributed six rebounds, two blocks and a steal to the Cougars' 87-65 win.
Afterwards, however, the Cougars were not crying foul toward Arizona's physical play.
"The guards were physical, everyone was physical," BYU freshman Kyle Collinsworth said. "But coach Rose told us to push back and we did. But it was clean. They were just playing hard, and when you play hard and physical things like that happen."8 comments on this story
And it should prepare the Cougars for what's to come next weekend against UCLA.
"They'll have a physical aggressive game plan for us, so we'll have to respond to it. But I like how we responded to this one tonight," Rose said.
GAME NOTES: The Cougars played their fifth straight game without the injured Chris Collinsworth. But the sophomore forward is no longer wearing a rehabilitating boot for his left ankle and could begin practicing soon. "What we really need to do is when it feels good enough to practice, have him practice. Then see how it feels the day after and go from there," Rose said. ... Fredette is now seventh all-time on BYU's scoring list with 1,768 points, passing Mekeli Wesley with his seventh point on Saturday. ... Fredette also passed Mark Bigelow for eighth place on BYU's all-time free throws made list (421) by going 8-of-9 from the line. ... Rose is now tied with former Cougars coach Glen Potter for fifth on BYU's all-time win list with 137 coaching victories.