Around the MWC
Who's hot18: BYU — Moved up despite loss
51: Utah State — Has won six straight
96: Weber State — Winners in seven of eight
153: Utah — 1-4 vs. top 50 teams
314: SUU — Beat Kirk Korver's team
341: UVU — Lost to No. 344-ranked team
Game of the week
BYU at UNLV
Saturday, 2 p.m., Versus
One of the last road tests of the season for the Cougars. The Rebels lost by just four points in Provo.
Kalee Whipple, Utah forward
She was a low-post force last week, recording a double-double in both games. She scored 25 points in the win over Wyoming, while putting in 16 points in a loss to BYU. In the two games she was 4-of-10 from the 3-point land and 11-of-12 from the foul line.
Fredette all but owns POY award i
With about one month remaining in the regular season, it's still too early to bestow awards for the 2009-10 Mountain West Conference basketball season.
Except maybe for one — Player of the Year.
BYU's Jimmer Fredette has all but sewn up that accolade, given all that he has accomplished this season. It's even more impressive considering that he suffered from mononucleosis the first couple of weeks in January.
Fredette made yet another strong case for Player of the Year honors with last Saturday's 36-point performance in the Cougars' victory over Utah. No BYU player in history had ever scored so many points against the Utes. Late in the second half, as Utah rallied, Fredette took over the game, scoring 20 of his team's final 25 points.
Afterward, U. coach Jim Boylen heaped plenty of praise on Fredette.
"I think he's the best player in the league in a long time," he said. "I haven't been in this league that long, but he's the best player we've played against this year, and we've played a heck of a schedule. He's a terrific player, a terrific competitor, he's a great kid and I think he represents BYU with a lot of class and pride. You should be proud of him. He's a great player."
Boylen added that Fredette is "going to have a tough decision to make in the spring." He was referring to Fredette possibly leaving school a year early to enter the NBA draft.
"He's really good," said Boylen. "Very few guys have the combination of ball skills, shooting ability, and what he's improved on is strength and his ability to finish plays at the rim. He is better this year. ... I was in 13 (NBA) drafts (as an assistant coach), and he's pretty good."
No doubt, Boylen and the rest of the MWC coaches wouldn't mind seeing Fredette move on to the next level. Fredette leads the league in scoring (21.2 ppg), 3-point shooting (.484) and free throw shooting (.897). He's also No. 7 in field goal percentage (.474).
On Monday, Fredette earned his fourth MWC Player of the Week award of the season.
BATTLING FOR POSTSEASON: For teams like BYU, New Mexico and UNLV, anything less than an NCAA Tournament berth would be a huge disappointment.
Then there are teams like Colorado State, which hasn't played in the postseason — not even the NIT — since 2003.
Even that year, the Rams finished sixth in the league but enjoyed an improbable run to the conference tournament championship, grabbing the automatic bid to the NCAAs.
CSU is experiencing a bit of a resurgence this year, posting a 3-4 record in league play and 12-8 mark overall. Coach Tim Miles, whose team visits Utah tonight, said his players are eager for a shot at playing in the postseason.
"If you finish .500 at the (midway point in conference play), you've put yourself in the conversation as far as postseason goes," he said. "For us, that's exciting."
INJURY UPDATE: UNLV guard Derrick Jasper is expected to be out four to five weeks after suffering a knee injury during last week's win over Air Force. He is among the league leaders in rebounding and assists.
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