ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Entering Saturday afternoon's game at The Pit, BYU's Jimmer Fredette was leading the nation in scoring, averaging 27.4 points per game, having poured in at least 40 points in three of the previous four games.
Fredette failed to reach the 40-point mark this time, scoring 32 in the Cougars' 86-77 setback to New Mexico.
The Lobos were crafty in the way they defended the national player of the year candidate. Among those who drew the defensive assignment on Fredette were 6-foot-1 senior guard Dairese Gary and 6-7 freshman forward Tony Snell.
"We wanted to put some length on him and Tony has that," said UNM coach Steve Alford. "I thought we made him take some really difficult shots, and make sure he was engaged defensively. He made some shots that great players make. We lost him a couple of times, but Tony did well. Our freshmen were terrific, but in the end it all comes back to Dairese."
Fredette made 12-of-26 shots, including 6-of-9 from 3-point range.
"Fredette, he's a beast. What can say?" Gary said. "Some of the shots that he made, I was looking at him in the game like, 'Wow, did you just make that in my face?' A player like that, you have to live and die just playing him one-on-one. If he makes a big shot, you have to go down to the other end and stay poised."
Aside from a couple of big scoring bursts, Fredette seemed to have a hard time finding a rhythm.
"I felt good a couple of times when I was shooting the ball. I had a couple of spurts there where I made some shots, but they did a good job of continuing to guard hard and not worrying about that," Fredette said. "If I made a shot, they just kept coming at me. They did a good job."
Gary credited Snell for helping slow down Fredette.
"Tony's a freak," he said. "He's long and can move like a guard. I think it bothered Fredette a little bit having that length on him. With me, it's more physical. Tony can play back on him and use his length. That helped him a little bit."
Fredette got to the free-throw line just five times and he missed three attempts from the charity stripe.25 comments on this story
"They're a good defensive team," Fredette said. "Coach Alford is a very defensive-minded coach. Dairese Gary is a tough-minded kid and he's going to battle. They did a good job. A lot of teams have done similar things, tried to be physical. I've seen it before but they executed well and won the game.."
Fredette also dished out seven assists and grabbed five rebounds and had three steals.
"Jimmer's been doing a great job all year," said BYU forward Charles Abouo. "Along with his scoring, he makes so many other great plays. He shared the ball really well today. With all the attention he gets, he creates a lot of open shots for everybody."