BYU-Air Force Preview
Jimmer Fredette became the Mountain West's all-time leading scorer his last time out, but his average against Air Force is his lowest versus any conference opponent.
Then again, BYU hasn't needed much from him when it has faced the Falcons.
The seventh-ranked Cougars have beaten Air Force eight times by an average of 17.9 points since Fredette's arrival in Provo, though they may be short-handed as they hit the road Wednesday night trying to make it 12 straight wins in the series.
None of the 16 conference games in which Fredette has reached 25 points has come against Air Force, but BYU (22-2, 8-1) hasn't required a scoring rampage from its senior star. The Falcons have been held to 55.1 points in losing all eight meetings with Fredette, who's averaged 14.1 points in those contests.
All but one of the games were decided by double digits, including two wins last season by an average of 30.5 points. Fredette only played 45 combined minutes, totaling 17 points - though he was slowed by a bout of mononucleosis in the 67-49 road victory.
Air Force (13-9, 4-5) did its best to contain Fredette on Jan. 8 in Provo, but it wasn't enough even though the Falcons held the Cougars to 42.0 percent shooting. Fredette turned the ball over four times, but scored 22 points in a 76-66 win.
"Jimmer is just uncanny," Falcons coach Jeff Reynolds said. "You can play him tough and he still gets his points. The minute you relax on him he makes shots. He is just a terrific player."
Fredette only made seven of 21 shots in a closer-than-expected 69-62 win at Wyoming last Wednesday, but he made up for it Saturday. He had 29 points to surpass San Diego State's Brandon Heath as the conference's all-time leading scorer in a 78-64 victory.
Fredette also had seven assists after Runnin' Rebels guard Tre'Von Willis accused him of never wanting to pass the ball earlier in the week.
"They're going to come after him, say stuff, try to get in his head,'' BYU guard Jackson Emery said. "When you can't stop a guy as good as Jimmer, you're going to get in his head. He's so good at finding his teammates. That's what makes us a tough team.
"Jimmer is a huge part of that, but the reason we'll go far in the nation is the rest of the guys.''
Emery is as important as any of those teammates. He averaged 19.5 points in the wins over the Falcons last season, though he was held to eight points and 2-of-11 shooting in last month's meeting.
BYU might need Fredette and Emery to score a bit more than usual Wednesday. Starting guard Kyle Collinsworth (concussion) and backup center James Anderson (shoulder) are questionable, though the duo only accounts for 8.0 points per game.
Air Force didn't do much right defensively in its last home game, a 75-61 loss to New Mexico on Feb. 1 in which the Lobos shot 51.1 percent. The Falcons bounced back Saturday at Utah, limiting the Utes to 39.5 percent shooting in a 54-49 victory.
"I was proud of how hard they worked on the defensive end," Reynolds said. "It showed our willingness and commitment to it."
The Falcons are 10-1 when holding opponents under 40 percent from the floor.