A hard-fought victory helped BYU bounce back from its first Mountain West Conference loss of the season. A visit from struggling TCU should help the league leaders remain on a positive path.
The 12th-ranked Cougars go for their 19th straight home win and try to extend their 13-year run of dominance over the Horned Frogs in a conference matchup Tuesday night.
After its 15-game winning streak was snapped with a 76-72 loss at then-No. 23 New Mexico on Wednesday, BYU (21-2, 6-1) returned home and beat heated rival Utah 82-69 in a physical contest Saturday. The victory left the Cougars one-half game ahead of the Lobos atop the MWC.
Jimmer Fredette continued his torrid pace by scoring 23 of his 36 points in the second half as BYU pulled away late after allowing Utah to cut an 18-point deficit to four.
The junior guard is averaging a league-leading 21.2 points this season, and 32.0 in his last three games while shooting 13 of 19 from 3-point range in that stretch.
“BYU has a great team and Jimmer Fredette, I believe, is the best player in the MWC,” Utah coach Jim Boylen said. “Possibly the greatest player of all time in the MWC.”
Fredette’s recent stellar play is a bit surprising since he spent the first part of January battling mononucleosis.
“He really played within himself late in the game when I know he was tired,” said coach Dave Rose, trying to guide the Cougars to a fourth consecutive regular-season MWC title. “That’s something that is good to know with what he’s been through in the last month. He dug pretty deep to find another gear and help his team win.”
Fredette had 16 points and shot 6 of 10 in BYU’s 79-63 win at TCU in the teams’ last meeting Feb. 14. He might have a chance to take it easy this time with the slumping Horned Frogs trying to avoid a fourth consecutive loss.
TCU (10-12, 2-5) has also dropped 10 consecutive meetings with BYU since a 92-80 win in Provo on Feb. 13, 1997. The Horned Frogs are 1-7 all-time at the Marriott Center, where the Cougars haven’t lost in more than a year.
BYU is averaging 80.7 points and shooting 50.1 percent during its winning streak over the Horned Frogs.
TCU faces its second straight Top 25 opponent after losing 73-57 at home to then-No. 23 New Mexico on Saturday. Sophomore guard Ronnie “Tuffy” Moss had a career-high 30 points with eight assists and the Horned Frogs were within two points at halftime, but failed to keep it close down the stretch while shooting 40.0 percent and committing 16 turnovers.
The Horned Frogs have lost four in a row against ranked opponents since a 71-66 victory over then-No. 14 Air Force on Feb. 24, 2007.
Moss is averaging a team-leading 14.5 points on the season and 25.5 in his last two contests. He totaled 12 points in two games against BYU as a freshman last season.