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Cougars receive heroes' welcome

By Tom Kirkland | Posted - Mar. 20, 2011 at 5:51 p.m.


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PROVO -- Close to 1,000 loyal fans stayed up late to give the BYU basketball team a proper homecoming after a huge victory in Denver.

The entire Cougar Nation is sharing in the celebration. Thanks to Jimmer Fredette's 34 points and great support from his teammates, BYU blew out Gonzaga Saturday night -- securing themselves a spot in the NCAA's Sweet 16 for the first time in 30 years.

The team's plane touched down at the Provo Airport around 12:20 Sunday morning. A huge crowd braved the rain and snow to share the amazing times with their heroes.

The March Madness adrenaline had everyone juiced up.

"We've got a lot of people here," said Head Coach Dave Rose. "We had a lot of people in Denver too. This team deserves it. They played really well."

The players were overwhelmed by the support.

Guard Jimmer Fredette said, "It's great. It's exactly what you want. We've got the Sweet 16 bid so we're really excited and it's great that they support us."

"It's nice," said guard Jackson Emery. "I thought the rain would scare them away but obviously it didn't."

Center Noah Hartsock said, "It's going to be a fun one, to have another chance to play some more big games so hopefully we can keep winning like this."

The Cougars have a few days to prepare before they take on No. 2 seed Florida in New Orleans. Two wins there and the team could head to the Final Four in Houston -- Head Coach Dave Rose's hometown.

Email: tkirkland@ksl.com

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