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The Dagger: College Basketball Blog

As expected, Jimmer delivers in a BYU tournament-opening win

Ryan Greene
The Dagger

America gets to experience The Jimmer at least one more time.

The loss of two key front-court pieces during the regular season — sophomore forward Brandon Davies and junior forward Chris Collinsworth — left BYU vulnerable to teams that can bang and bruise inside entering the NCAA tournament.

Wofford clearly didn't intimidate BYU down low, and Fredette exposed the Terriers in every way possible.

The nation's leading scorer used repeated dives to the bucket to compile a game-high 32 points, but also tallied seven assists in the Cougars' 74-66 victory on Thursday night in Denver.

In the process, he became just the 19th player in NCAA history to record 1,000 points in a season. He's now at 1,002.

When he blew up for 37 points in a double-overtime victory over Florida in last year's first round, those who hadn't yet experienced the Jimmer Magic firsthand were in awe. This, however, was expected.

This was also the exact kind of game that BYU needed to restore some of its bounce after looking deflated following the 72-54 loss to San Diego State last Saturday in the Mountain West Conference title game. {YSP:MORE}

Their 54 points against the Aztecs were a season low, and Fredette needed every ounce of his energy — plus 25 shot attempts and 11 free throw tries — to piece together 30 the ugly way.

These 32 looked much smoother.

He consistently strung Wofford's guards along with mini-crossovers on the perimeter before catching them off-balance and taking off for the rack. It made up for a rough night from the outside, as he was just 2-of-9 from 3-point range, but did manage to wow the local crowd with a deep, nonchalant 30-footer from the left wing just before halftime.

It was also the fifth time this season in which Fredette has recorded at least seven assists in a game.

Helping BYU put Wofford away in the second half was a strong team rebounding effort. Freshman swingman Kyle Collinsworth had a career-high 11 boards to go with four steals, while senior Logan Magnusson contributed a rare 10 points and seven rebounds off of the bench, including two monster 3-pointers.

Being this well-rounded and attacking the rim might not be so easy against a bigger, more physical second-round opponent in Gonzaga, who out-muscled St. John's to cap the night in Denver with an 86-71 rout. The Zags' collection of big bodies out-rebounded the Johnnies by an incredible 41-18 margin.

With that said, the outside shooting will need to be a bit more crisp on Saturday, as it's been one of BYU's strengths for much of the season.

Against the Terriers, they were just 6-of-22. Outside of Fredette's struggles from long range, also cold was Jackson Emery, who for the last two years has typically been a spot-on wingman.

Emery was 0-for-4 from deep while, like Fredette, playing the full 40 minutes. He's slumping at the wrong time, as the senior is now 5-of-27 from outside the arc over the team's last four games.

But Jimmer has the ability to cover up for his teammates against overmatched opponents. He's that good. He did it again. And now the nation gets to enjoy him in a lead role at least once more.

Ryan Greene also covers UNLV and the Mountain West Conference for the Las Vegas Sun. Read his Rebels coverage and follow him on Twitter.

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