BYU basketball: Jimmer Fredette unstoppable as Cougars beat Aztecs, 71-58
PROVO — When the final buzzer sounded Wednesday night at the sold-out Marriott Center, BYU fans, who had screamed themselves hoarse during the game, stormed the court to celebrate the Cougars' first victory over a top-10 team at home since 1984.
In a showdown between top-10 teams that lived up to the hype, Jimmer Fredette erupted for 43 points as No. 9 BYU knocked off No. 4 San Diego State, 71-58, before a crowd of 22,700.
It was a physical game that saw the score tied seven times and the lead change hands 15 times. The Cougars (20-1, 6-0) snapped San Diego State's 20-game winning streak and handed the Aztecs (20-1, 5-1) their first loss of the season.
BYU takes over sole possession of first place in the Mountain West Conference standings.
"It was definitely a big win for our program, just because it was two top-10 teams and a very hyped game," Fredette said.
Afterwards, Fredette was mobbed by Cougar fans as he tried to shake hands with Aztec coaches and players.
"It was a little crazy tonight," he said. "That's something I've never experienced, where they rush the floor. I just tried not to get trampled. It was a cool experience. It just shows the support we have here at BYU. They really love our basketball team. It was great to see, but it was a little scary."
And Fredette was scary good.
For Fredette, it was the 15th time he has scored over 30 points in his career and his fifth game with more than 40. It's only the second time he's scored more than 30 points at the Marriott Center. He had 36 last season against Utah.
"It wasn't a goal of mine to score 40," Fredette said, who nailed 14-of-24 from the floor, including five 3-pointers. "It was a goal to try to win the game."
The nation was paying close attention to this game, and so, too was NBA star Kevin Durant, who declared on his Facebook page after the game, "Jimmer Fredette is the best scorer in the world!"
"I would disagree with him on that one," Fredette said when asked about Durant's comment. "I think he's the best scorer in the world. I was making shots again tonight. But my teammates did a great job of setting screens for me and giving me opportunities to make baskets. And fortunately, they were going in."
Fredette scored the final 15 points for his team to end the first half, then scored nine of the Cougars' first 12 points to start the second half.
"When he's hot like that, all we can do is keep crashing the boards and keep giving him the ball," said Brandon Davies, who scored 14 points.
But as SDSU's defense clamped down on Fredette, and with Jackson Emery suffering through a tough shooting night (1-for-7 from the field), BYU's big guys stepped up. James Anderson and Charles Abouo came off the bench to snatch big rebounds against SDSU's talented frontline, which recorded 18 offensive rebounds.
"I'm really impressed with Steve Fisher's team," said BYU coach Dave Rose. "They played really hard and played together, but I'm also proud of our guys because we consistently, for 40 minutes, got to their shooters and battled them for rebounds. They had 18 offensive rebounds, but they could've had 30."
"James did a great job," said Davies. "Everyone who came off the bench gave us a great lift, especially James. He played them physical."
"The key to the win was our big guys, and the guys who came off the bench, coming in and just rebounding the heck out of the ball the second half," Fredette said.
Leading by one, 47-46, Fredette pulled up and drained a 3-pointer at the top of the key as the shot clock horn sounded. That was followed by a steal and dunk by Emery. Buckets by Anderson and Noah Hartsock gave BYU a seven-point lead, 56-49.
San Diego State's James Rahon answered with a 3-pointer, to cut the deficit to four with seven minutes left, but the Aztecs never got any closer. Fredette sealed the victory by scoring BYU's final nine points, including seven at the free throw line.
"That is a really good team we just played," said SDSU coach Steve Fisher. "They are led by as good a player as I have ever coached against. He is just sensational and extremely hard to guard. But the team is very good and the crowd really got into it. We allowed too much separation there at the end and missed too many easy ones. Once the lead got to 10 we were not going to get back in it."
Aztec forward Kawhi Leonard scored a team-high 22 points, and had 15 rebounds, though he was battling the flu.
BYU, which beat a top-10 team at home for the first time since downing No. 7 Washington in 1984, travels to New Mexico on Saturday.
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