Jimmer Fredette and BYU will play in Provo just once this month, but the team’s next game is in a city very familiar to its star player.
Fredette leads the No. 18 Cougars into his hometown of Glens Falls, N.Y., to take on Vermont on Wednesday night.
BYU is 8-0 for the second time in three years and there are big expectations in Provo as Fredette, a preseason All-American and two-time All-Mountain West Conference first team selection, finishes his college career.
The senior, who withdrew his name from the 2010 NBA draft after helping his team advance to the second round of the NCAA tournament last season, is averaging 22.3 points and 4.1 assists.
The Cougars’ start is particularly impressive since they have played their last four games away from home and will not return to Provo until Dec. 23 when they face UTEP.
Following a 78-57 win over Hawaii on Saturday in Salt Lake City, BYU travels to Glens Falls to the Civic Center, where Fredette and his high school team played in the state title game in 2007.
“I know it’s a big deal for everyone in the area and that’s great,” Fredette said Monday. “It’s great to have that love and support from people you grew up being around … Hopefully I understand how big it is and hopefully we’ll be able to play well and be able to win.”
Fredette returns home after a solid game against the Warriors, finishing with 16 points and four rebounds. After shooting 5 of 15 in a win over Creighton three days earlier, Fredette connected on 6 of 13 against Hawaii.
However, his performance was overshadowed by the team’s bench, which scored 31 points, led by career highs of 13 points from freshman Stephen Rogers and 11 from Logan Magnusson.
“They did a great job,” Fredette said. “They hit some big shots. That’s what our team has to do.”
The Cougars are preparing for a tough test from Vermont (6-1), which despite losing its top two scorers from last season’s team that lost in the first round of the NCAA tournament, is off to its best start since 1956-57 after notching an 82-78 win over Yale on Saturday.
BYU coach Dave Rose said the key will be Fredette avoiding any distractions from playing at home.
“Hopefully Jimmer can manage all the outside things,” Rose said. “This is a great opportunity for not only Jimmer but for our team.”
Meanwhile, the Catamounts will try to spoil Fredette’s return as they seek their sixth straight victory. Evan Fjeld led the way against Yale with 18 points and 10 rebounds for his fourth career double-double and first this season while Joey Accaoui had 17 points in 22 minutes off the bench.
Fjeld leads the Catamounts with 20.9 points and 6.7 rebounds per game.
Vermont is averaging 73.4 points and shooting 49.5 percent, but it has played its last four games at home. Its only loss was an 89-73 defeat at Connecticut - now ranked No. 6 - on Nov. 17.
Vermont, facing BYU for the first time, is 2-18 against ranked opponents since the 1973 season. Its last win over a Top 25 team was a 77-63 victory over No. 14 Boston College on Nov. 13, 2006.
“We’re going to have to play very well,” Fjeld said. “It’s going to be a tough challenge, no doubt.”