March 11, 2011
Lobo Men's Basketball - Mountain West Tournament
Friday: Brigham Young 87, Lobos 76
By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
To borrow and put a twist on a line from the movie "Cool Hand Luke," - nobody can score 50 points.
Well, maybe Paul Newman can eat 50 eggs and maybe Brigham Young's Jimmer Fredette can score 50 points. Or 52.
The Cougar senior made BYU history while throwing up 52 points on the New Mexico Lobos to become BYU's all-time leading scorer. BYU rode Fredette's shooting touch to an 87-76 semifinal win Friday night in the Vegas' Thomas & Mack.
"He's a heck-of-a player and we saw a magnificent performance," said Craig Neal, UNM's associate head coach. "You can't take anything away from him. He got on a roll and we couldn't stop him."
The Cougars charge on to the Mountain West Tournament's championship game. The Lobos likely will be waiting a call from the National Invitation Tournament and maybe a first-round game in The Pit.
It was a tough loss for the Lobos, who were looking to use the Mountain West Tournament as their ticket to the NCAA Tournament. It was even a tougher loss considering UNM's do-it-all senior, Dairese Gary, left the game two minutes into the second half with an injury to his right knee. He never returned to the floor.
"It sucks the wind out of you to see how bad he was hurting," said Neal. "It also hurts in how bad he wants to win and he can't do anything about it. All he kept saying (on the bench), was, "I'm sorry.'"
One of the more touching moments of the BYU/Lobo battle came at the game's end when Gary and Fredette, two of the MWC's top guards ever, exchanged long hugs in front of the Lobo bench where Gary had to wait and greet the victorious Cougars.
The loss of Gary obviously was major to the Lobos' cause, but Fredette put up 33 points on UNM in the first half with a healthy Gary on the court and led 47-42 at the half. The Cougars seemed to play at a higher level of energy in their third run at UNM and Fredette obviously was throwing out his "A" game.
Still, Gary's absence hurt as UNM lost clutch baskets and senior-wise ball handling down the stretch when BYU used several key Lobo turnovers to pull away.
The Lobos had a good shooting night at 48.4 percent while BYU shot 50 percent with Fredette going 22-of-37 from the field and 7-of-14 from 3-point range. The Lobos got 17 points and 15 boards from Drew Gordon , 14 points from Jamal Fenton, 13 from Kendall Williams and 11 points from A.J. Hardeman.
Fredette got some nice help from Emery Jackson with 14 points and Kyle Collinsworth with 11 points and nine boards. The Cougars hung with UNM on the boards with the 36-33 edge leaning toward UNM.
BYU had only six turnovers and UNM was hurt, especially late, with 15 turnovers. The Cougars had nine steals to two for the Lobos.
The loss dropped UNM to 21-12 while BYU went to 30-3 and avoided losing three games to the Lobos this season.
"Our guys played as hard as they could play and we are proud of them," said Neal.
The Lobos trailed most of the game, but formed a 58-all tie with 9:54 to go. BYU then drifted up 68-61 and 78-67 with 2:29 to play. "We couldn't get our outside shot going and we weren't real aggressive against the zone after Dairese went out," said Neal.
Second Half: Brigham Young 40, Lobos 34
The Lobos got off to a good start in the second half. Fredette missed a wide-open eight footer and then Hardeman scored inside: 47-44.
Then things turned ugly. Gary drove the lane as the shot clock was fading away and went down in pain as his right side buckled. He was helped off the court at 18:32 obviously favoring his right leg. He was helped off the court and into the locker room.
Gary later returned to the bench with a huge ice pack on his right knee.
The Lobos did OK. Williams banged in a trey and Gordon scored on a follow and the scored was knotted at 49-all. Fredette had yet to score. At the 15:19 break, it was still 49-49.
"I thought our guys did great when Dairese went out," said Neal. "They kept fighting."
Fredette scored his first hoop off a Lobo turnover when he scored a layup over Fenton, but the Cougar had started the second half cold. Fenton then scored inside to tie the game 53-all and Fredette finally banged in a jumper: 55-53.
BYU went up 58-55 before UNM created a 58-all tie on a Gordon tip and a Fenton free throw. BYU then went up 62-58 scoring off two UNM turnovers.
Williams made a huge shot for UNM launching long over pressure to beat the shot clock. The freshman swished it to pull UNM to 62-61. Fredette then hit his first trey of the second half to push BYU back up 65-61.
BYU then extended to its biggest lead of the game up to that point at 71-63 - eight points. Fredette paced the forming of that gap with a pull-up jumper and a long trey. His 47th point convinced Alford to burn a timeout.
Fredette then made BYU history and put a knife into the Lobo. He did another stop-and-pop as Hardeman reached out and slapped the Cougars' arm. Fredette made the jumper and the free throw to become BYU's all-time leading scorer.
BYU then came up with a steal and a Jackson dunk to go up 76-65. Alford called time at 3:48. The Cougars went up 78-69 on a Fredette assist to Jackson. Fenton banged in a long trey to make it 78-72 with 1:33 to go. The Lobos still had a shot, but needed some turnovers and likely needed BYU to miss some free throws.
Collinsworth went to the line for BYU shooting a one-and-one with 1:14 to play. He missed. Fenton turned it over and Fredette scored on a drive to push BYU up 80-72 with 54 ticks to play.. That pretty much sealed BYU's win, but Jackson hit six straight free throws in the final 32 seconds to leave no doubt.
First Half: Brigham Young 47, Lobos 42
Lobo Stat Leaders: Gary 9 pts., Hardeman 8 pts., McDonald 8 pts.
You have to give Fredette credit for his first half. As they say in basketball, he was unconscious. The nation's leading scorer was stunning despite Alford throwing several Lobos in his face. He scored almost at will and his 33 points came without the benefit of the free-throw line.
"I think the biggest play of the game was the first possession when they get three shots out of it and Jimmer ends the possession with a layup," said Coach Neal. "That got him going."
Fredette's magical touch was the bad news for the Lobos, but the good news is that the Lobos were playing well and striking the net with balance. The Lobos' balance likely was going to return for the second half. But could Fredette keep up his pace?
The first half definitely was a fan-friendly 20 minutes of run and gun hoops. It was almost a blow-for-blow affair until BYU threw out a little run at the close of the half to create the Cougar's five-point lead.
The Lobos shot a better percentage in the first half 53.1 percent to 51.3 percent. BYU's edge came on taking seven more shots with Fredette going 14-of-20.
UNM's Gary's name was lost in the gush over Fredette, but the Lobo had a solid first half finishing with nine points and seven assists. The Lobos got eight points from Hardeman, eight from McDonald and seven from Gordon.
The Lobos had 11 assists to five for BYU, but Fredette was going one-on-one so much that there wasn't a lot of Cougar passing. A key for BYU in this game was not getting hammered inside and the Cougars did a good job winning the first-half board battle, 18-15. Gordon led all boarders with seven.
The Lobos led 33-32 off a Fenton trey at the 5:37 mark and then BYU pulled ahead by as many as seven points before pulling in for the five-point halftime lead.