Look no further than Jimmer Fredette's record-setting performance in pinpointing why BYU finally beat the New Mexico Lobos to advance to the Mountain West Conference Tournament finals.
Fredette hit 22-of-37 shots in scoring a BYU-record 52 points, with 33 of those points coming in the opening 20 minutes. Ironically, Fredette shot a season-low one free throw.
As good as Fredette was, there were other critical numbers that keyed BYU's pull-away-late win. The Lobos led seven times and stayed close for 30 minutes until BYU's quick-reacting zone defense forced New Mexico into 15 turnovers, which resulted in BYU scoring 24 points off those turnovers. The Cougars also had nine timely steals, which helped them to 14 fast-break points. Jackson Emery had five steals himself and Charles Abouo added two. The Cougars also held New Mexico to 43 percent shooting over the final 20 minutes.
Up until the final minutes, however, the Cougars had their hands full because the rest of BYU's team was struggling to make shots. Even with Fredette hitting 14-of-20 first-half shots and 5-of-8 from long range, the rest of BYU's team was 6-of-19 at the break and 0- for-7 from behind the 3-point line. Emery had another tough shooting game, missing his first five 3-point shots and making only 1-of-6 in the opening half.
The effectiveness of BYU's zone also helped the Cougars maintain respectable numbers in the paint. Although they were outscored 36-28 in the paint, they were only outrebounded by the much-taller Lobos by three and broke even in offensive boards. The Cougars also had a 1-point advantage in second-chance points.
Kyle Collinsworth had another nice game for BYU with 11 points and nine rebounds, with five coming on the offensive glass. Abouo, who has been hot of late, cooled off significantly with only two points on 1-of-5 shooting before fouling out. The Cougar starters again played a lot of minutes, and BYU had only one bench point.
In two tournament games, Emery is now 6-of-24, but he did hit 7-of-8 free throws and dish out a team-high five assists.
Copyright 2015, Deseret News Publishing Company