Preseason All-American Jimmer Fredette is obviously the biggest reason expectations are so high in Provo, but he isn’t the only player BYU opponents have to focus on slowing down.
Forward Brandon Davies looks to build on the best game of his career for the 21st-ranked Cougars on Saturday against a Hawaii team that hopes to pick up its first win on the mainland in nearly 22 months at EnergySolutions Arena in Salt Lake City.
Fredette, a two-time all-Mountain West Conference first team selection, averaged 24.8 points in helping BYU (7-0) win its first six games, but wasn’t as effective at Creighton on Wednesday.
The Bluejays spent much of the game double-teaming Fredette, limiting him to just four shots and five points in the first half. He finished with a season-low 13 points on 5-of-15 shooting.
While the strategy to frustrate Fredette worked, Creighton didn’t have any answers for slowing down Davies in the paint. The 6-foot-9, 235-pound sophomore was 9 of 11 from the field, finishing with a career-best 24 points and six rebounds in the Cougars’ 77-65 victory.
“He was not only scoring the ball, but he was rebounding,” BYU coach Dave Rose said. “If we get consistent play like that from him I think this team can make some real steps forward.”
Davies could be poised for another big game with Hawaii senior Bill Amis, the team’s leading scorer (15.8 per game) and rebounder (6.8), out with a stress fracture in his right foot. Amis also missed last season’s 83-65 loss to BYU because of a torn plantar fascia in the same foot.
Fredette had 20 points on 9-of-14 shooting and eight assists against the Warriors on Nov. 20, 2009 for the Cougars, who lead the all-time series 31-13.
Last season’s meeting between these programs was the first since 1999, when both schools played in the Western Athletic Conference. This will be the first time they’ve squared off in Salt Lake City since Hawaii defeated BYU 73-66 in the 1994 WAC championship game.
The Warriors (5-1), whose first-year coach Gib Arnold is a BYU graduate, arrive in Salt Lake City after a heartbreaking 54-53 loss at Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo on Wednesday.
With Hawaii leading by one point late, Mustangs guard Chris O’Brien grabbed a missed shot - the second offensive rebound for Cal Poly in the final frantic seconds - and made the putback at the buzzer. It was another tough way to lose on the road for the Warriors, who have dropped 13 straight games away from Honolulu since a 73-69 win at Fresno State on Feb. 19, 2009.
Hawaii guard Hiram Thompson was averaging 14.2 points in five home wins, but was held to four points on 1-of-5 shooting Wednesday. Thompson had a team-high 15 points against BYU last season.
This will be the Warriors’ first game against a ranked opponent since losing at then-No. 15 Nevada 69-68 on Feb. 3, 2007.