BYU 87, Arizona 65: In catfight, only Cougars have set of claws
When it comes to razing traditional power Arizona in college basketball, nobody does it better than guard Jimmer Fredette and the No. 18-ranked BYU Cougars.
For the second straight December, the Cougars pummeled the Pac-10's Wildcats behind a phenomenal game from their preseason All-American guard. They smoked Arizona 87-65 at EnergySolutions Arena in Salt Lake City on Saturday night in front of a festive holiday crowd of 15,814.
Fredette, who torched Arizona for a school-record 49 points last year, had 33 points on 11-of-22 shooting and added nine rebounds and three assists as BYU improved to 10-0 for the second time in three seasons.
"He's a special player. I'm glad he's on our team," BYU coach Dave Rose said.
Having defeated Arizona 99-69 in Tucson on Dec. 28 of last year, the Cougars were expecting a tight, physical battle from a much-improved team (now 8-2) seemingly hell-bent on proving that last year's rout was a fluke, that Fredette's arena scoring record was out of the ordinary.
It didn't happen.
"I don't know if it is anything against Arizona, but I was able to have another good night," Fredette said.
The Cougars never trailed. They broke from a 14-10 lead with a 14-0 run spurred by Fredette, freshman Kyle Collinsworth and Jackson Emery, and waltzed to a 44-25 halftime advantage.
"I thought the start was really important because I think it kind of deflated them," Rose said.
Fueled by sophomore guard Lamont Jones' torrid 3-point shooting, the Wildcats made a mild run in the second half, cutting the deficit to 14 a couple of times. Jones had all 20 of his points in the second 20 minutes.
But Brandon Davies scored five straight points to thwart one Arizona rally, and the Cougars sent the Wildcats packing for good with 9 minutes, 26 remaining after a flagrant foul on Jamel Horne.
Emery hit a pair of free throws, and Fredette capped the possession with a 3-pointer to get to 33 for the night, and the rout was on. Fredette watched the last five minutes from the bench, resting after a whirlwind week of travel to his hometown of Glens Falls, N.Y.
"That was as good a win as maybe we've had this season," Rose said. "We got so many contributions from so many people."
There was a scary moment, however. Noah Hartsock took an inadvertent blow to the face and suffered a concussion in the first half, never returning. He had lacerations in his mouth that required stitches.
"We're kind of worried," Rose said. "He has a concussion and, at halftime, didn't really know where he was. â¦ He took quite a shot."
The Cougars shot 51.8 percent and won the rebounding battle 38-34. Collinsworth added 12 points and Davies had 11.
"We can play with anyone if we play like we did today," Davies said.
Arizona coach Sean Miller, whose team shot 35 percent (21-for-60) and struggled against BYU's zone defense, left town a believer in the Cougars' national ranking.
"Their record and ranking speaks for itself," he said. "BYU is one of the elite programs in the country, and they showed it tonight."
For the second straight time.