SALT LAKE CITY — When your team is undefeated and taking no prisoners, and the scouts are evaluating and the media mulling and fans clamoring, there's just no living up to being Jimmer Fredette.
Thirty-three points? Nice night. Too bad almost everyone at EnergySolutions Arena on Saturday afternoon was thinking 50.
Life is strange when you're good enough to be called by just one name.
The BYU guard turned in a boffo performance, leading the Cougars to an 87-65 rout of Arizona, bringing their two-year margin against the Wildcats to 52 points. Next year at this time, the Cougars might want to schedule Dordt or Hastings.
Someone that might give them a game.
As it is, Arizona will be in therapy for months, thanks to Fredette.
"Just another reminder," said Arizona coach Sean Miller.
If there were a defining moment in all this Jimmermania, when suddenly people realized the guy with the Kids-R-Us name could really play, it happened on Dec. 28, 2009. That's when Fredette scored a BYU-record 49 points. Before then, he was just the best player on his team. After that, he was viral. Consider the hand-made signs at Saturday's game:
"Jimmer, we want 50!"
"WWJD: What Would Jimmer do?"
"Jimmer has your number!"
None of the signs even bothered to mention his last name.
Saturday's rematch with the Wildcats promised to be memorable, and in one sense, it was: Fredette owned them. He passed (three assists), rebounded (nine) and, naturally, scored (33). The Wildcats have to be wondering if there's much they could have done.
"Our game plan's not the one you want to use, when you consider what he's done the last two times against us," said Miller.
It's not as if Fredette sneaked up on Arizona this year; the 'Cats could hear him coming. Last week, he dominated the BYU news by returning to his hometown of Glens Falls, N.Y. and leading the Cougars with 26 points in a win over Vermont.
But that was just the latest. Going into the season, he was as inconspicuous as a crater, named to eight preseason All-America teams. But the sure sign he was a top-flight college star was when people started casually referring to him by first name only, i.e. Michael, LeBron, Kobe, Shaq.
Meanwhile, BYU fans are loving life in Jimmerica. Last year's win at the McKale Center was a 30-point Cougar blowout, the largest margin of any visiting team in arena history. This year's contest promised to be more interesting. BYU came in ranked 18th and 9-0, while Arizona was 8-1, and though unranked, had been getting poll votes. Its solitary loss was to Kansas.
By most measures, Fredette should have been below average Saturday. He was coming off the mentally and physically taxing trip to his hometown. It was exciting, gratifying and, of course, draining.
Following up with a Pac-10 team was an invitation to a letdown. Yet Fredette wasted no time making his point. He landed a jumper, added a trey and drove for a layup, pushing the Cougars to a 12-4 lead. They never let up.
The single bright moment for the Wildcats came when Derrick Williams made a monstrous slam to cut BYU's lead to 14-8. He reacted by saluting the BYU student section. In reality, he probably should have saluted Fredette — in the most deferential manner.
As the lead climbed, the starch began slipping out of the Wildcats. Fredette stepped back to launch a recklessly long 3-pointer that naturally went in, stretching BYU's lead to 37-21. The fans went Jimmerbonkers with joy.
That's not to say they got what exactly they wanted. They were hoping for 50, maybe 100 points. He only missed a couple of layups and the front end of a one-and-one or he could have approached 40. Coach Dave Rose mercifully removed him with 5:23 remaining, the crowd rising in acknowledgment.
"He's terrific," said Miller, "and we don't have an answer."26 comments on this story
"They did the best they could," offered Fredette.
In the end, it wasn't a record-setting night like last year — which included nine treys — but close enough. You can't paint the Sistine Chapel twice.
"Yeah, I know," he said, when it was pointed out that fans wanted him to break 50. "Obviously that's a special night. It doesn't happen very often."
But what happens all the time is Jimmer being Jimmer. There's something special about that, too.