College Basketball Nation: 2011 NCAA Bulldogs-Cougars

Fredette scores 34 as BYU crushes Zags

March, 20, 2011
3/20/11
1:57
AM ET

DENVER -- BYU fans were chanting long after the team had left the court at the Pepsi Center. Their cries could be heard inside the Cougars locker room, where a player asked Jimmer Fredette if he could understand the chants.

“3:16?” he asked Fredette, a reference to the famed verse of Biblical scripture.

The BYU faithful were actually chanting “Sweet 16!“ The team's hearing problem was one of the few struggles the Cougars experienced as they trounced 11th-seeded Gonzaga 89-67 on Saturday. Behind Fredette’s 34, BYU advanced to the regional semifinal round for the first time in 30 years.

“It’s been a long time for our fans, and I’m happy, really happy for them,” said BYU coach Dave Rose, pausing as his voice cracked with emotion. “I’m happy for our players, happy for our coaches, our administration. I mean, everybody is in this. We’re in this together. This is a special team.”

Fredette, the nation’s leading scorer, delivered one of his most memorable performances, hitting seven 3-pointers and burying the Zags.

The Cougars faced many uncertainties heading into the tournament.

Leading rebounder Brandon Davies had been suspended for the rest of the season in early March after violating the school’s honor code. He was relegated to the bench wearing a sweater rather than a jersey. In its first game following Davies' suspension, BYU lost to New Mexico at home. Rose told the team it needed to adjust or this magical season would soon end.

He also implemented associate head coach Dave Rice’s new game plan -- a strategy that called for spreading the floor and creating chances based on driving and kicking the ball out to the perimeter.

Against an imposing Gonzaga frontline that included 7-foot center Robert Sacre and ultra-athletic 6-foot-7 forward Elias Harris, BYU did just that. Fredette scored his first five field goals on 3-pointers. He ran off screens and pulled up in transition to get looks at the basket. While Fredette was 2-for-9 from beyond the arc two days earlier against Wofford, he was 7-for-12 facing a mixture of man-to-man and zone defenses from the Zags.

“You have off nights, then you come back and have good nights,” Fredette said. “Kind of the law of percentages throughout the year.”

Said guard Jackson Emery: “Jimmer’s Jimmer. He’s going to score from outside, inside, you never know.”

The Cougars made half of their 3-point attempts, with Emery and Noah Hartsock each notching three. Emery scored 11 of his 16 points in the first half while Hartsock scored 13 on 5-for-5 shooting.

Hartsock got in early foul trouble, but Stephen Rogers came off the bench to score 10 first-half points and James Anderson blocked two shots to further show that BYU isn’t just about Fredette.

The Bulldogs (25-10) saw their 10-game winning streak snapped despite 17 points from Sacre and 18 points apiece from Harris and senior Steven Gray. Harris grabbed eight rebounds, and Sacre had seven to help outrebound the Cougars 36-27.

But after a Gray 3-pointer cut the lead to eight with 12:19 left, BYU responded with a 12-0 run capped off by back-to-back 3-pointers from Fredette and Hartsock, and eventually extended the lead to 24. Rose called this the best game BYU has played all season.

“They got points, they were physical, but we tried to be physical back with them even though we don‘t have the size,” Hartsock said.

Not since Danny Ainge led BYU to a run to the Elite Eight in 1981 has the program experienced this level of success. The Fredette worship has become a national phenomenon. In each corner of the Pepsi Center, fans held up homemade posters and marked Fredette’s points as he scored them. They left plenty of space available just in case the star senior exploded for more.

The Cougars hope to make more history during a dream season in which Emery has already broken Ainge’s all-time steals record and Fredette has broken the school record for points. They’ll now face Florida in New Orleans for a chance to go to the Elite Eight.

“It’s stuff you’ve always dreamed of,” Emery said. “We know we’re not done yet.”

Video: BYU's Jimmer Fredette

March, 20, 2011
3/20/11
12:34
AM ET


BYU’s Jimmer Fredette talks about the 89-67 victory over Gonzaga.

Rapid Reaction: BYU 89, Gonzaga 67

March, 19, 2011
3/19/11
10:09
PM ET
DENVER -- BYU beat Gonzaga 89-64 to earn a spot in the Sweet 16 -- the first time the Cougars have gotten this far since 1981. They did it behind Jimmer Fredette's 34 points and six assists. Jackson Emery scored 16 points, and Noah Hartsock added 13. The Zags were led by Steven Gray and Elias Harris, who scored 18 points apiece. But with BYU making 14 of their 28 3-point attempts, there was no stopping the Cougars.

Turning point: Gonzaga briefly got the lead down to single digits, but Fredette’s seventh 3-pointer made it 72-55. Hartsock then hit another to push the lead to 20 with 8:17 left, leaving Fredette emotional headed into the timeout.

Key player: Fredette was held without a field goal for nearly the first nine minutes of the game, but he soon began to heat up. He finished 11-for-23 from the field, was perfect at the line and finished with seven 3-pointers.

Key stat: Fredette was 7-of-12 from beyond the arc, taking advantage of whatever defense the Zags were throwing at him, man-to-man or zone. The Zags ran different defenders at Fredette, and it was no use.

Miscellaneous: The Cougars were out-rebounded 36-27 by a bigger Zags team, but still managed to do enough to slow Gonzaga's frontline. Kyle Collinsworth played well and had six points and seven rebounds, and Hartsock was a perfect 5-for-5 from the field.

What’s next: BYU moves on to the Sweet 16 in New Orleans to face Florida, a team the Cougars beat last season in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

Preview: Saturday in Denver

March, 19, 2011
3/19/11
2:38
AM ET

No. 13 seed Morehead State (25-9) vs. No. 12 seed Richmond (28-7), 5:15 p.m. ET

How they got here: Both 12th-seeded Richmond and 13th-seeded Morehead State staged comebacks against power-conference teams on Thursday. The Spiders beat Vanderbilt 69-66, with guard Kevin Anderson making big shot after big shot and finishing with 25 points. The Eagles defeated Louisville 62-61, with Demonte Harper making the game-winning 3-pointer and Terrance Hill getting hot from beyond the arc as well, scoring 23 points.

Storyline: One of these two double-digit seeds will get to go to the Sweet 16. Richmond, which has a history of big upsets, now takes on the role of the favorite. The Spiders lost to Saint Mary’s in that position last season and now have a chance to reach the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1988. For Morehead State, it‘s a chance to make history again with its first trip to a regional semifinal. “This game is really important because Coach [Donnie Tyndall] told us we have a chance to make it to the Sweet 16 before the season even started,” Harper said.

Players to watch: Think Tyndall likes his chances with Harper and star forward Kenneth Faried? He called Faried his Gordon Hayward and compared Harper, who has shown his ability to take the last shot, to Shelvin Mack of Butler. For Richmond, Anderson proved himself to be a shot-maker against Vanderbilt. Leading scorer Justin Harper struggled with his shot, and the Spiders could use a big day from their senior.

What to look for: Faried is one of the stars of the tournament so far, and he didn’t even have a great offensive game against Louisville. But Faried is so dominant a rebounder and such an athletic presence in the middle that he impacts the game in so many ways.

“We know he doesn’t give a lot of second shots on the offensive end,” Anderson said of the nation's leading rebounder. “It’s going to be tough to stop him."

Richmond could try containing Faried with the 6-foot-10 Harper, relying on his ability to shoot from long range. But lest we forget: Anderson will be a tough matchup for Morehead State, as well.

No. 11 seed Gonzaga (25-9) vs. No. 3 seed BYU (31-4), approx. 7:45 p.m. ET

How they got here: BYU was the only favorite in Denver that did not get upset in the first day of action, as the Cougars dispatched of Wofford with a 74-66 win. Jimmer Fredette scored 32 points, and he also got help with Charles Abouo, Noah Hartsock and Logan Magnusson scoring 10 points apiece. Gonzaga dominated St. John’s with an 86-71 win in which Marquise Carter scored a career-high 24 points and Steven Gray and Elias Harris also had big nights.

Storyline: Not since Danny Ainge was leading Brigham Young have the Cougars been in the Sweet 16, and now it’s Fredette who will try to take them there 30 years later. BYU has won its first tourney game in each of the past two years, but now wants to make a deeper run. For Gonzaga, the perennial dangerous underdog, the Zags want to continue proving themselves as a team and program to be reckoned with. A win against BYU and the national scoring leader Fredette would be yet another milestone victory.

Players to watch: Again, look for Fredette to carry the scoring load despite the opponent’s best efforts to contain him. And in a game with huge ramifications, expect a big dose of him. But Gonzaga does have the advantage of having 7-foot center Robert Sacre to try to exploit a BYU frontcourt missing the post presence of Brandon Davies. Sacre, after helping the Zags dominate St. John’s on the glass, indicated he was looking forward to the matchup against BYU. “A little bit, but they still have Jimmer,” he said.

What to look for: While limiting the damage Fredette does is a must, this game could come down to how well Gonzaga can exploit its height advantage with Sacre, along with the 6-5 guard Gray and 6-7 forward Harris, who are both dynamic players.

“They’re a very big team,” Fredette said. “They got to the offensive glass very well. They get a lot of second-chance opportunities, which gives them a lot of energy.”

Gonzaga will have to continue to get good guard play as well from Carter and point guard Demetri Goodson in order to slow down Fredette and Jackson Emery.

SPONSORED HEADLINES