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BYU's victory is all about Jimmer
The Jimmer Fredette Show made a stop in Southern California on Saturday afternoon and the immediate, knee-jerk reaction following BYU’s 80-67 road victory against No. 6 San Diego State was to gush all about the Cougars’ supporting cast.
How an anonymous junior, Charles Abouo, knocked down four 3-pointers, big man Noah Hartsock connected on 3-of-4 from deep and senior Jackson Emery hit a pair of huge trifectas in the second half.
How the trio combined for 46 points, and how this team has other players besides just The Jimmer.
However, this was just further evidence to the contrary: This team is all about The Jimmer.
San Diego State was at a loss for what to do defensively, double-teaming Fredette on numerous occasions the moment he stepped over the San Diego State emblem 45 or so feet away from the basket.
There were even times Aztecs coach Steve Fisher ran three guys — a trio of long and athletic men — at the nation’s leading scorer.
“We were trying to get the role players to beat us,” Aztecs star forward Kawhi Leonard, one of those assigned to try and contain Fredette, said afterward.
While on the surface it appeared as though that’s what happened, in fact, San Diego State just got Jimmered.
This time it wasn’t nearly as scintillating or as dominating as the 43 points Fredette dropped on the Aztecs exactly one month ago in Provo, the one that took the nation by storm and put Jimmer in everyone’s vocabulary as a noun, verb and adjective.
It wasn’t prototypical Jimmer-Mania. But it was equally as effective.
Instead of trying to do it all himself, this time Fredette trusted his teammates. And they delivered.
Fredette had nine assists — virtually every one an easy basket for a teammate — in picking apart the Aztecs defense.
Guys like Abouo, Hartsock and Emery knocked down 3-pointers so open it appeared San Diego State was defending them from another time zone.
BYU made 14-of-24 shots from beyond the arc in the win, but let’s face it: It’s not all that difficult for most Division I college basketball players to make wide-open 3’s.
No knock on Abouo, but he’s hardly a knock-down shooter. But when the shots aren’t contested …
“When you double-team Jimmer, you leave someone open,” said Emery, who entered the game shooting 37 percent from long distance.
And when you double-team him and then give even more help, the options are abundant.
“We have guys that can shoot the ball,” Fredette said. “Especially when they’re open.”
BYU coach Dave Rose said that it puts Fredette at ease when his teammates are making shots from the perimeter, and that’s when he does his best work.
“He doesn’t have to think about what to do,” Rose said. “Or who he is going to pass it to. He just does it.”
With the win, in a hostile environment in which fans tossed objects onto the court and at Fredette after the game, No. 7 BYU has now completed the season sweep over San Diego State, and controls its destiny to win the regular-season Mountain West title.
And if the Cougars (27-2, 13-1) can win their final two regular-season contests against New Mexico and Wyoming on their home floor then run the table in the league tourney, The Jimmers could make a case for a No. 1 seed.
“In our position, we can only do what we can do,” Rose said. “Other things have to happen.”
The Cougars now have three wins over top-25 teams. Kansas and Duke both have two.
The are two losses: one on the road against UCLA that doesn’t look quite as bad as it did on Dec. 18, and one at The Pit against New Mexico.
“We might have a chance for it,” Fredette said. “It depends on how the rest of the teams play. Maybe if they lose.”
But there’s been no talk of the No 1 seed in the BYU locker room. It is, according to Rose and his players, all about finishing strong. Saturday’s road win was a big step in that direction.
“This was a huge game, two top 10 teams at their place,” Fredette said. “Everyone was picking them to win. We came in as underdogs.”
And they left as Final Four contenders.
Emery is one of the best leaders and more underrated players in America. Hartsock and Brandon Davies are a solid duo on the frontline and Abouo has become a versatile glue guy.
But this isn’t about them.
It’s about The Jimmer.
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