Provo » Friday was a big day for the Brigham Young men's basketball program, and not just because of the Cougars' 70-60 season-opening victory against Bradley.
Earlier in the day, coach Dave Rose signed a new five-year contract. What better way to celebrate a new page in BYU basketball than with a win against a good team from a conference that is much like the Mountain West.
"It was a good way to start," said Rose of the victory in front of 16,276 spectators in the Marriott Center. "There was a lot of energy in the building."
As for the contract, Rose felt it was a statement to the future of the Cougars' program.
"It's a big thing when you talk to parents," Rose said. "They know you are committed to the school and the school is committed to you."
BYU guard Jimmer Fredette echoed his coach.
"It's good for recruits to know the coach will be here for four years," Fredette said. "That's the reason I came here."
Fredette showed his appreciation by taking over the game in the second half when the Braves, down by 10 to start the second half, knotted the score at 39 with 14:48 to play.
Fredette scored 16 of his game-high 25 points in the final 20 minutes, including 12 straight at the foul line. In particular, Fredette helped push the lead back to double digits with a burst of 10 points in a six-minute stretch.
"We were settling for too many jump shots," he said. "It was definitely a big part of the game."
Bradley, in Provo as part of the MWC/Missouri Valley Conference Challenge, made the first basket. It was the Braves' final lead.
"Jimmer Fredette is a very special player," said Bradley coach and former Utah Jazz guard Jim Les. "I'm never happy with a loss, but I thought we battled and played hard."
Rose used the same words to describe his team. In many ways, BYU struggled with its execution, but never its energy.
"The experience that Jimmer had really helped tonight," Rose said.
Both teams started slowly. Bradley missed five of its first six shots, while BYU was 2-for-7. Cougar forward Jonathan Tavernari clanked 13 of 18 shots and finished with 13 points.
BYU did receive important minutes from Michael Loyd Jr., who finished with a career-high 10 points and tied his best of four rebounds. Freshmen Brandon Davies and Tyler Haws also contributed a combined 29 minutes.
Prior to the tipoff, BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe said it was important to keep Rose, who received an undisclosed raise, at the school.
"You want to keep a coach who is doing a great job," he said. "We're so pleased with what he's doing. It was a natural thing to keep him around."
BYU holds Bradley to six field goals and 27 percent shooting in the first half. The Braves go scoreless for nearly six minutes.
» BYU guard Jimmer Fredette scores 16 of his game-high 25 points in the second half.
» Michael Loyd comes off the BYU bench to score a career-high 10 points.