There’s not a spot on the basketball floor that Brigham Young University’s Jimmer Fredette won’t launch a shot. Most of the time, regardless of where he’s standing, the ball finds its way into the hoop.
It would be safe to say Fredette, a senior point guard who leads the nation in scoring with a 27.3 average, is a marked man.
When Fredette steps into the front court, there are two and sometimes three defenders trying to guard him.
That’s no problem because Fredette will simply wiggle away and still get off a shot. It’s smart to get close to the hoop, and Fredette tries to do this, but if a 25-footer is available, even though it’s low percentage, with Fredette it doesn’t matter.
BYU has built a mini-rivalry with San Diego State this season in the Mountain West Conference, and it spilled over this past Saturday at sold-out Viejas Arena as the two clashed for the second time, and like the initial meeting, the Cougars prevailed, this time, 80-67.
In the first encounter at Provo, Utah, the 6-foot-2, 195-pound Fredette scored 43 points, pushing the Cougars to a 71-58 victory.
The No. 6-ranked Aztecs were looking for revenge and a possible No. 1 seed in the upcoming NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
This time, Fredette tallied 25 points, and made eight of 23 shots from the field, but had help as Charles Abouo scored 18 points (15 in the second half), and Noah Hartsock added 15 points (13 in the first half).
San Diego State (27-2 and 12-2 in conference) scored the first bucket, but that was its only lead. For the rest of the day the Aztecs chased No. 7-ranked BYU (27-2 and 13-1 in conference).
“A lot of people here were watching and nationally,’’ Fredette said, who had a career-best nine assists, and came in shooting 41.1 percent from the three-point range, and 46.1 percent from the field. “We don’t get a lot of attention. I’m glad we were able to get the win.”
The Cougars prefer to unload three-pointers, as they hit 14 of 24 from long-distance, with Fredette and Abouo each drilling four.
BYU went ahead 6-2 with 5:53 left in the opening half, with Fredette making a layup. With 12:14 showing, the Cougars were in front, 15-8, as Fredette nailed a three-pointer.
It became 29-20 in favor of BYU with 7:51 remaining as Fredette, an American Studies major, converted a pair of three-point shots.
From there, the Aztecs, who connected on six of 17 from three-point range, outscored the Cougars, 15-9, and went into the half trailing, 38-35.
BYU made seven of 10 from the three-point stripe, as Fredette, who has scored 40 points or more three times this campaign, and surpassed 30 points or better nine times, hit five of 13 from the field, and had 13 points in the first half.
It became 42-35 with 16:35 left in the second half, and 54-46 with 11:52 remaining before the Cougars went on a 13-8 spurt for a 67-54 lead and 8:15 left.
The Aztecs, led by Kawhi Leonard’s 17 points and 13 rebounds, closed within 68-60 and 5:21 showing, and 74-64 with 3:31 left.
Fredette has accomplished much this season. But the one goal he and his teammates are shooting for is the national championship.
Rick Assad has been a sportswriter for more than two decades. He has a political science degree from UCLA, a journalism degree from CSUN, and is a staff writer for diamondboxing.com, and is a columnist for socalboxing.wordpress.com. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.