Fredette, Loyd come up big in BYU opener

Fredette, Loyd come up big in BYU opener

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PROVO -- The BYU men's basketball team struck first in the Missouri Valley-Mountain West Conference challenge Friday evening, defeating Bradley 70-60 in the Marriott Center.

The game was a typical first game, with both teams struggling to execute their game plans early.

"We knew it was going to be a tough game for us, but we were really, really excited to get out and play," said Jimmer Fredette, who led the Cougars with 25 points and four assists. "We were settling for too many jump shots."

Bradley proved to be a worthy opponent, preventing the Cougars from getting in to any kind of rhythm and holding them to only 37.5 percent shooting in the first half. The second half was a different story.

Fredette, who scored 16 of his points in the second half, took control of the game, repeatedly driving the lane and getting easy layups, or getting fouled and going to the free throw line. The preseason Mountain West Conference player of the year made his free throws count, connecting on 12 of 14 attempts.

The fans weren't the only ones impressed with his play.

"Jimmer Fredette is a very special player," said Jim Les, Bradley's head coach.

The Cougars weren't the only ones who came out in the second half ready to play.

Bradley went on a quick run after half time, and tied the game at 39 after trailing 32-25 at the break.

"They're tough-minded kids, and their coach is a tough-minded guy," Fredette said. "They started making some three pointers and had a big alley oop dunk and did some really good things to get momentum on their side, and we were able to sustain our confidence and get it back on our side, luckily."

The surprise of the game was redshirt sophomore Michael Loyd providing a much-needed spark off the bench for the home team. Starting two-guard Jackson Emery played limited minutes due to foul trouble, which allowed Loyd to play 22 minutes, finishing with 10 points, making all four of his field goal attempts and adding four rebounds and a steal.

While Loyd was surprised he had the opportunity to play so many minutes, he just as quick to point out it was simply a product of hard work.

"It feels really good," said Loyd, who redshirted last year. "It feels like the work I put in during that (redshirt year) year, watching, practicing, it feels like it paid off. Hopefully it continues."

Head Coach Dave Rose was also pleased with the sophomore's performance.

"I thought Mike Loyd gave us a really big lift and played terrific tonight," said Rose, noting that Loyd's defensive presence and ability to rebound was important along with his shooting performance.

Rose said that much of the Cougars' success against the Braves stemmed from his team's defensive effort. BYU held Bradley to only 27 percent shooting in the first half, and 36 percent for the game. Chris Roberts, a 6-4 swingman out of Fort Worth, Texas, led the Braves in scoring with 16 points, adding five rebounds, two assists, a block and two steals.

The Cougars will now turn their attention to their next game against Idaho State. The Cougars host the Bengals in the Marriott Center next Tuesday at 7:30 before hitting the road to take on Hawaii the following Friday.

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