Dick Harmon: BYU basketball: Jimmer had a once-in-a-lifetime performance

Published: Friday, March 11 2011 10:55 p.m. MST

LAS VEGAS — Jimmer Fredette's eruption against New Mexico on Friday night was one for the ages, an act that will likely be unmatched in the annals of BYU history.

Fredette's record 52-point performance in BYU's 87-76 Mountain West Tournament win over nemesis New Mexico was breathtaking if not astounding.

Witnesses will attest to it.

It had it all, including a record-busting shot that will be frozen for all time.

It was only fitting the Cougar senior with the golden touch broke BYU legend Danny Ainge's career school scoring record with one of his storybook, play ground moves, an old fashioned three-point play.

With 4:24 left in the game and BYU up 71-63, Fredette drove past Lobo freshman Kendall Williams and teammate A.J. Hardeman, a 6-8 center came over to help and fouled Fredette as he faded back for a shot.

The ball left Fredette's hand and softly arched towards the rim where it gently bounced around, up and down, and settled at the bottom of the net. He then stepped to the line for his only free throw attempt of the game and made the play for his 50th point and the passage of Ainge's 30-year old record.

He got another bucket to get to 52 before Dave Rose took him out with less than a minute to play, his New York grin wide as Niagara Falls.

On the night, Fredette made 22 of 37 shots, 7 of 14 from distance. He had 4 assists. The rest of the Cougars made 12 buckets.

New Mexico's coach, the former Indiana All-American guard, said for Fredette to score 52 with only one free throw was amazing. He'd used five people on Jimmer, Williams for speed, All-MWC defensive team guard Dariese Gary for strength, Tony Snell for length and Jamal Fenton for quickness and change of pace.

"Nothing worked," Alford said. "He scored on all of them."

It was historic, no debate about it, none at all. The kid put on a show never seen before in the Thomas & Mack. The 52 points set the arena record, the league record, the tournament record, BYU's school record. It was one of the hottest shows in a town created to host shows and headliners.

Fredette exploded, simply erupted from the start of this semifinal game with the Lobos. He had 12 points before folks settled in their seats, Lobo and BYU fans glaring at one another.

He poured in points as if hooked to a hydrant firehose. They came from distance, from pullup jumpers, layups, fade-aways, runners. They came like machine gun spitting out payload and when he got to 33 in the first half, Fredette's performance had media, game officials, conference officials buzzing.

His 33 points at the half broke the MWC tournament semifinal scoring record for an entire game held previously by BYU's Terrell Lyday under the watch of Steve Cleveland.

I sat on the end of press row next to two veteran game officials sitting courtside for their duty later with UNLV and San Diego State. After one of Fredette's flurry of points, absolute lasers to the rim, the in-game official Larry Spaulding looked over at this crew, squinted and pursed his lips to say: "Unbelievable."

The ref next to me, one I've known for decades declared: "I've been officiating college basketball for 33 years and I've never seen anything like this." After the half, they all converged and traded: "Nothing like it" chatter.

At the half, Fredette had converted 14 of 20 shots. That was three more makes than the entire Lobo team and BYU left the court with a 47-42 lead.

In the media room, I ran into veteran New Mexico publicist and former associate athletic director Greg Remington as we walked to the water cooler.

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