Provo » It wasn't just the first key to victory that BYU coach Dave Rose wrote on the whiteboard in the locker room prior to Wednesday's game against San Diego State.
It was the first and the second.
"Rebound," said guard Jimmer Fredette. "And that's what we did."
The Cougars matched the Mountain West Conference's best rebounding team board for board and took a more-difficult-than-it-looks 82-68 win over the Aztecs in front of 20,124 at the Marriott Center.
BYU actually won the rebounding battle, 38-37. Both teams had eight offensive boards.
With Fredette blistering the Aztecs again -- this time for 26 points instead of the 33 he put on them a month ago at Viejas Arena -- the No. 13-ranked Cougars completed a second-straight season sweep of SDSU to improve to 26-3, 11-2 in the MWC.
San Diego State (20-8, 9-5) probably saw its NCAA Tournament at-large hopes expire with the loss, but showed it will be dangerous in the conference tournament. The Aztecs' leading scorer, Kawhi Leonard, was ill and scored just three points in 24 minutes.
"No excuses from him or from me," said SDSU coach Steve Fisher. "I mean, we got beat."
Meanwhile, streaking BYU's hunt for the conference title, and perhaps the best NCAA seed in school history, continues Saturday when it plays host to No. 10 New Mexico in what many are calling the biggest regular-season game in MWC history.
"It's gonna be a battle," said Jackson Emery, who added 17 points, a good chunk of those coming late in the first half when BYU broke from a 25-25 tie with an 11-3 run that gave them an eight-point lead at halftime that they would not relinquish in the last 20 minutes.
"We were really good in transition opportunities," BYU coach Dave Rose said. "We made good decisions and got the ball to the rim, and so I thought the difference in the game was our ability to rebound and then get out and score in transition."
The Cougars outscored the Aztecs 20-4 on fastbreak points, making up for a 17-12 SDSU advantage on assists. It is not often the Cougars are out-assisted by five. Nor do they usually have twice as many steals, but they did Wednesday (10-5), with Emery coming up with five alone.
"That's why we are good. We put pressure on people for 40 minutes," Fredette said.
He would get no argument from Fisher, who heaped praise on the Cougars virtually his entire postgame interview.
"We got beat by a really good team tonight," Fisher said. "They beat us in a lot of different ways. Primarily when we missed, they just attacked and got way too many conversions, easy opportunities ...They are not 26-3 or whatever they are for nothing. They are good. And they proved it tonight against us."
The Cougars started off in a man-to-man defense, but quickly switched to zone after a couple of dunks by Malcom Thomas and used it pretty much from there on out.
"Teams that zone shouldn't foul as much," Rose said when asked about the free-throw disparity, and added, "we were on attack the majority of the game."
In short » No. 13 BYU runs past San Diego State on Wednesday to set up the biggest regular-season game in MWC history on Saturday, against No. 10 New Mexico.
Key moment » Jonathan Tavernari's three-pointer sparks an 8-0 run with six minutes remaining.
Key stat » BYU scores 20 fast-break points; San Diego State four.