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Seeing as he was portrayed as an animated superhero before the season, Jimmer Fredette's performance last night in Buffalo was fitting.
In the first half of BYU's game v. the Buffalo Bulls, he was James Taft Fredette--mild-mannered college student, scoring six points on one-of-nine shooting. After the halftime break, he changed into his comic book duds, and it was "Jimmertime" at Alumni Arena: Fredette went 10/15 from the field and scored 28 points in the final 20 minutes, leading BYU to a 90-82 win over the tenacious homestanders.
Fredette's 28 point outburst represented the second-best scoring half of his BYU career, trailing only a 30-point effort against TCU in last spring's Mountain West Conference tournament.
The 34 points on the night were a season-high, and the sixth straight game in which Fredette has scored 25 points or more, lengthening a personal career-best streak. BYU is now 10-1 in games in which Fredette tops the 30-point plateau (Fredette scored 30 in BYU's MWC tourney loss to UNLV last season).
Fredette was spectacular, and the Bulls were relentless. Five separate times, BYU opened up 11-point leads, but the lead would get no greater, as the Bulls would draw to within three, or two, or one, or tie the game, but never get on top. For a game in which BYU never trailed, it was an energy-sapping, tense and taut affair from start to finish, in front of a crowd of 5,803 that more than tripled the Bulls' previous season high in attendance.
The combined allure of an All-American, the nation's 16th ranked team and BYU's mobile legion of fans made for a great atmosphere on a night when the students were still on break, and it was a great primer for the MWC battles that begin next week.
In scouting the Bulls, I had concluded that they were a team that would have a difficult time keeping pace with BYU on offense, but the Bulls more than held their own. I failed to give enough credence to Buffalo's 83 point per game average at home, where the Bulls had also won ten in a row. I acknowledged Zach Filzen's three-point prowess (the nation's leaders in 3pgm/gm; he was 4/7 from distance), but failed to foresee the 14/18 shooting night turned in by Mitchell Watt and Javon McCrea.
I did believe that the fact BYU takes/makes more shots, takes/makes more threes, and takes/makes more free throws would be significant factors. BYU launched three more fga, took six more 3pfg and made one more, then took 15 more free throws and made 13 more. Add in BYU turning it over seven fewer times (BYU was +11 in POTO), and not even Buffalo's 56%fg and 50% 3pfg performance could rescue the Bulls at home.
All in all, it was a tremendously enjoyable college basketball game, and the second memorable trip to the Empire State in the month of December.
Notes: Dave Rose is now 140-41 in his sixth season as BYU head coach, breaking a tie with G. Ott Romney for third place on the BYU coaching victory tally. Next up: Roger Reid, in second place with 152 wins.
For the second straight season, BYU heads into the New Year with a 13-1 record.
Jackson Emery had four more steals, giving him 43 on the season. He is four thefts away from tying Danny Ainge for BYU's alltime career lead.
Fredette (1,880 pts) is five points away from tying Russ Larson (1,885) for 4th place on BYU's career scoring list. Devin Durrant is next, with 2,285 career points.
BYU has lead double-digit leads and runs of at least 10-0 in eight consecutive games.
Buffalo lost a December home game for the first time since 12/21/2006.
Fredette has scored in double figures in 19 consecutive games (8 pts at Utah on 3/3/10).
Noah Hartsock had never hit more than a single three-pointer in a game. He was 3/3 from the arc in the first 5:36 of the game. He had 15 first half points and finished with 19, two away from a career high.
Brandon Davies (18 pts) has scored in double figures in six straight games (extending a career-best streak) and seven of the last eight overall. He is averaging 15pts/7reb per game in the last four games.
Fredette is tied for third nationally in scoring at 24.9 points per game, one-tenth of a point away from second place.