Cougars win 12th in row over Falcons
Not even a banged up knee, a physically swarming defense and a raucous capacity crowd could stop Jimmer Fredette.
Fredette, the nation's leading scorer, had 25 points despite suffering a bruised right knee and the No. 7 Cougars used runs of 16-0 and 14-0 to cruise past Air Force 90-52 Wednesday night.
Air Force swarmed Fredette with pesky double teams the entire game, but it was not enough. Fredette reached the 20-point mark for the 10th straight game in leading the Cougars (23-2, 9-1 Mountain West) to their 12th consecutive victory over the Falcons (13-10, 4-6).
''Their game plan was to be very, very, very, very physical with me,'' Fredette said. ''That's probably the most aggressive I've been played. I was still able to get some shots off, and my outside shot was going a little bit. It was a little frustrating, but our team just played great in general. We had a great win.''
The senior bruised his knee late in the first half after colliding with Falcons defenders in the lane. He said after the game that, while it was sore for the remainder of the game, the knee should be fine after some ice treatment.
Fredette said he thought roughly half of the 6,028 in attendance were cheering for him and his Cougars.
''That's great support, and we love that,'' Fredette said. ''There were a lot of fans, and I didn't realize there were going to be that many. There was a great crowd for both teams, and it was a lot of fun.''
Fredette led four BYU players in double digits, with Jackson Emery adding 17, Brandon Davies 13 and Stephen Rogers 11. BYU's offense was clicking on all cylinders, with the Cougars shooting 57.9 percent from the field and hitting 15 of 30 3-point attempts.
The defense was perhaps even better, holding the Falcons to 34.5 percent shooting and a season low for points.
That effort pleased coach Dave Rose.
''The key to tonight was defense,'' Rose said. ''I was really pleased with the effort of our guys. That second half might have been as good (a half) of basketball as we've played. Defensively in the second half, I thought our zone was as active as it's been in a long time.''
After Air Force cut the BYU lead to 36-27 on an Evan Washington dunk to start the second half, the Cougars scored the next 14 points.
''They can't shoot the ball better than they did tonight,'' Air Force coach Jeff Reynolds said of BYU. ''They made a lot of open shots and contested shots in the second half, and we couldn't do anything against their zone. When they shoot the ball like that, they will beat a lot of teams. Unfortunately, tonight it was us.''
Tom Fow and Michael Lyons led the Falcons with 11 points apiece.
BYU blew open a 15-12 game with a 16-0 run early in the first half, holding Air Force scoreless for 7:51. The Falcons fought back with an 11-0 run to cut the lead to 31-23 with 2:13 remaining, but Fredette scored five straight points to give the Cougars a 36-25 halftime lead.
The game was a sloppy affair, with the teams combining for 30 turnovers. BYU used 24 assists on its 33 baskets and scored 26 points off turnovers. The Cougars also won the rebounding battle, 41-26.
BYU was the highest-ranked team Air Force has hosted since then-No. 4 Utah visited Clune Arena on Jan. 22, 1998.