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BYU's Jackson Emery, here in overtime of Thursday's game, said his career has been a 'terrific ride.'

NEW ORLEANS — Playing most of his career in the larger-than-life shadow of Jimmer Fredette, BYU senior Jackson Emery quietly closed out his career following Thursday's 83-74 loss to Florida.

Emery, the Cougars' all-time steals leader, joined the program in 2005-06, which was also coach Dave Rose's first season at the helm.

At the time, BYU was coming off a 9-21 campaign. Emery finished his career having helped lead the Cougars to their first trip to the Sweet 16 since 1981.

"It's been an incredible journey," Emery said. "I was here in coach Rose's first year. One thing we wanted to do with this program is build it up and every year get better. I feel like every year we've gotten better. We've raised expectations.

"And we've had a lot of doubt on the outside, but all that matters is what we believe as a team. I thought we accomplished what we wanted to and beyond. I'm proud to say we had a great season, and I'm excited to move on, and I'm excited to see BYU next year because I know they'll continue to work hard and become better."

Emery added that he's enjoyed playing alongside fellow senior Fredette.

"It's been a great career with Jimmer. It's been a terrific duo, Jimmer and me, and a terrific ride," he said. "Jimmer is a terrific player and I know he's going to have a great career professionally because one thing that I admire about Jimmer is the work ethic he has. I know a lot of people have doubted his ability, but Jimmer continues to shut down doubters and continues to work hard. The reason I love playing with him is because he's a great guy off the floor, and I know we're going to stay in contact afterward. It's hard to not play with him, but I know we're going to be great friends after."

ZONED OUT: BYU has implemented a zone defense a lot since it lost forward Brandon Davies to a suspension.

The Cougars zoned Florida early, but the Gators' red-hot shooting forced BYU to go man-to-man. Florida hit 10 of its first 12 shots from the field.

"They do a great job spacing the floor, moving the ball," Rose said. "They had 23 assists in the game and that's what they do. They space the floor so well, it's really hard to zone them."

AINGE IN THE HOUSE: Among the 12,320 fans sitting in the stands at the New Orleans Arena was former Cougar legend Danny Ainge, who led the Cougars to the Elite Eight in 1981 thanks to his famous coast-to-coast dash, and game-winning layup, against Notre Dame.

He currently serves as executive director of basketball operations and general manager of the Boston Celtics. Ainge was already in the general vicinity of New Orleans. The Celtics played in Memphis Wednesday night.

FREDETTE'S SCORING: Fredette, who scored 32 points against Florida, finished his college career with a school-record 2,599 points. He scored 1,068 points this season, averaging 28.9 points per game. Fredette's single-season point total was 11th-best in NCAA history.

RECORD ATTEMPTS: BYU and Florida combined to set an NCAA Tournament single-game record with 71 attempted 3-pointers. The previous mark was 70, held by Drake and Western Kentucky in 2008.

Email: jeffc@desnews.com

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