Las Vegas • In the waning moments of BYU's 87-76 win against New Mexico on Friday night in a Mountain West Conference tournament semifinal game, Jimmer Fredette looked over at his teammates on the bench and gave them that little "money" sign he does, rubbing his thumb against his fingers.
A No. 1 sign would have been just as appropriate.
Fredette became the all-time leading scorer in BYU basketball history, passing Danny Ainge, with a 52-point night that set school, tournament and arena single-game scoring records.
"I was just making shots tonight," Fredette said after going 22 of 37 from the field, including 7 of 14 from 3-point range.
Remarkably, Fredette got to the free-throw line just once, completing a three-point play that fittingly gave him his 50th point. The basket before eclipsed Ainge.
It was the sixth time in his career that Fredette has scored more than 40 points in a game and the fourth time this season.
Was this his best game ever?
"You know, it is right up there," he said.
Fredette scored 33 points in the first half, also a school record for points in a half. He scored BYU's first 10 points, making his first four shots.
"Obviously, Fredette had one of those career nights. Very, very special talent. He put on an incredible performance," said New Mexico coach Steve Alford, who noted that it was extra special because it didn't come at the free-throw line.
"That's really unusual ... and speaks volumes of just how talented he was," Alford said.
New Mexico used five different defenders on Fredette but had to guard him in the second half without Dairese Gary, who left the game with a knee injury.
Fredette and Gary shared a long hug after the game, and Fredette said in the postgame news conference that the Lobo senior is "one of the best players that I've played against in this league. He's a great defender."
The superstar looked tired during stretches of the second half, but coach Dave Rose said he never thought Fredette needed to come out of the game.
"Not tonight," Rose said. "I just thought that Jimmer would have been a little upset if I would have taken him out tonight, so we waited until the end."
Turns out, it was a move that was right on the money.
Fredette's highest-scoring games
March 11, 2011 New Mexico 52
Dec. 27, 2010 Arizona 49
Jan. 11, 2011 Utah 47
March 10, 2010 TCU 45
Jan. 26, 2011 San Diego State 43
Jan. 22, 2011 Colorado State 42