BYU basketball: Cougars need contributions from entire team, not just Jimmer Fredette
But if the No. 3-seeded Cougars are going to advance in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament tonight (5:15 p.m. MT, CBS) against No. 14 seed Wofford, it's going to require a complete team effort.
BYU (30-4) is at its best when Fredette, and his teammates, are all contributing.
"That's going to be a key for Wofford, to key on Jimmer and stop him and not let him go off," said BYU guard Jackson Emery. "And it's going to be really important for the rest of us to step up."
Wofford (21-12) coach Mike Young knows that the Cougars are far from a one-man team.
"They have Fredette, who is averaging 28 points a game, which is mind-boggling," he said. "I think that's a mistake people make, is it's Jimmer, Jimmer, Jimmer. Emery is a terrific player. (Noah) Hartsock is a very good player. (Charles) Abouo is a very really good player. So they're a complete team.. They don't beat themselves. They've got a guy that can score 52."
All season long, Fredette has involved his teammates. In one of the Cougars' most impressive victories of the season, at San Diego State in late Feburary, Fredette scored 25 and dished out nine assists as Abouo (18), Hartsock (15) and Emery (13) all chipped in.
"Jimmer, he demands a lot of attention. He's a great player. He can score in so many ways," Emery said. "When he demands a lot of attention, he's really good at passing and finding us. We do an excellent job at spreading the floor.
"When we won down at San Diego, I think it was a prime example of sharing the ball when they double-teamed Jimmer, with everyone just hitting shots. When Jimmer is on, you like to keep the ball in his hands. Like I said, we let Jimmer play his game. If it's pass, shoot, whatever, we know Jimmer is going to make the best play."
BYU coach Dave Rose said much of Fredette's success has been a result of the way his teammates complement him.
"That's where I think Jimmer has been very good this year," Rose said, "is the ability to be able to read and react, and his teammates be able to respond, as well, in different situations. Our players have to respond to that. I think Jimmer does a great job of being patient, being able to read defenses."
Terrier guard Jamar Diggs draws the defensive assignment against Fredette, but he knows he can't defend the nation's leading scorer by himself.
"It's a team thing," Diggs said. "It's not just going to be me, it's going to be my whole team, just try to slow him down."
Meanwhile, Wofford, which has won eight consecutive games, is No. 8 in the nation in field goal percentage (48 percent) and No. 6 in 3-point shooting (40 percent). Forward Noah Dahlman is sixth in the country in field goal percentage (61 percent).
"They're an excellent shooting team," Emery said. "The biggest thing we have to do is we can't give them open shots, open looks. We've got to attack them. Every basket they get, they earn it. We can't give them any easy looks at the basket, whether it's from the 3-point outer core or easy layups at the basket, make them earn everything they get."
The Cougars worked hard this season to earn a No. 3 seed. Now, it's either win or go home.
"The main thing is that we go out there and win," Fredette said. "Whatever I have to do in order for us to do that, that's what I'm going to try to do, whether it's score the basketball, distribute, play defense. Whatever it is at the moment that we need, I'm just going to go out there and try to do it.
"It's our last run. It's my last time here with Jackson and our team. I'm just going to leave everything out on the floor and, hopefully, I'll be able to play and score the basketball and be aggressive like always."
Cougars on the air
No. 3 BYU (30-4) vs. No. 14 Wofford (21-12)
Today 5:15 p.m. MT
Pepsi Center, Denver
Radio: 1160 AM, 102.7 FM
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