Saturday, February 26, 2011
BYU makes statement, topples SDSU
By Andy Katz
SAN DIEGO -- BYU made sure the selection committee, the voters and the casual fan knows this team is more than capable of going on a deep run in March.
BYU guard Jimmer Fredette battles San Diego State's Chase Tapley while driving to the basket in the second half.
And maybe the Cougars should start that run as a No. 1 seed.
BYU beat SDSU 80-67 Saturday at a rocking Viejas Arena for a season sweep of the series, setting itself up for a Mountain West title with two games remaining.
In their last game in San Diego as a member of the MWC before going to the West Coast Conference next season, the Cougars dominated the second half to pull away. The difference? Brigham Young finished 14-of-24 from 3 for the game. You're not going to lose many games shooting that percentage from beyond the arc.
Now BYU has a real chance to be a top seed in the NCAA tournament if it wins the MWC tourney in Las Vegas in two weeks.
As for SDSU, its only two losses this season are to BYU. San Diego State is still in contention for a No. 2 seed. The Aztecs have now lost four straight to BYU, including two in a row at home.
Meanwhile, Jimmer Fredette remains the front-runner for national player of the year as he scored in a variety of ways, finishing with 25 points. But his best contribution came with setting up his teammates for 3s.
Other quick thoughts from the game:
Three cheers for Aztec faithful: San Diego State found a way to wake up a dormant program. The energy inside Viejas Arena was tremendous. Students showed creativity with their costumes and missionary attire. The crowd was jumping throughout the game and during timeouts. I never thought I'd see this here. They have made SDSU a happening place.
The Jimmer Report: Fredette had his usual offering of deep 3s, got to the hole, and while he was off at times and got harassed on the ball, he found ways to help his team by setting up others for deep looks like Jackson Emery. Fredette did have four turnovers, but tied a season-high with nine assists.
BYU is no one-man team: The Cougars did a solid job collapsing inside on the Aztecs in the post, and their defense overall was solid. They did get burned by 3s and fast break run-outs, but the half-court defense was better than advertised.
If BYU is to go deep in the tourney …: Then Emery (13 points) and Charles Abouo (18 points) will have to make shots like they did Saturday. Brandon Davies and Noah Hartsock are so undervalued when discussing this team; both bigs can run and finish. Hartsock missed just one shot against the Aztecs (3-of-4 from 3, 6-of-7 overall).
Unsung hero: The honor goes to Abouo. He continued to make some key 3s to offset any runs by SDSU in the second half.