Jimmer Fredette had a happy homecoming with a victory in suburban New York in BYU’s last game.
The senior guard may be able to keep the good times rolling in Salt Lake City on Saturday when he tries to rip apart Arizona’s defense for a second straight year for the 18th-ranked Cougars.
In front of a crowd of 6,300 in Glens Falls, N.Y., - nearly half the total of the town’s population of 14,000 - Fredette scored 26 points in his hometown as BYU (9-0) routed Vermont 86-58 on Wednesday. The preseason All-American also had five assists.
“Jimmer was terrific. I’ve been through quite a few homecomings as a coach and this is the most unique,” coach Dave Rose said. “But that just goes to Jimmer and how special a player he’s been.”
The Wildcats (8-1) can attest to that. Last season, Fredette hit nine 3-pointers and finished with a school-record 49 points plus nine assists and seven rebounds as the Cougars dealt Arizona its worst loss at the McKale Center in a 99-69 rout.
Further complicating matters for coach Sean Miller is his team coming off a sluggish 73-62 home victory over Cal State Fullerton. Arizona had problems figuring out the 2-3 zone defense of the undersized Titans, who entered with a 3-5 record, before pulling away late.
“The way we played tonight does not give me much confidence going into this weekend’s game,” Miller said. “We need to get back together going into our next game in Salt Lake City or Jimmer Fredette is going to make another record run on us and we’re going to lose big.”
Derrick Williams scored 16 of his 22 points in the second half Wednesday and is likely to be pivotal to the Wildcats avoiding another blowout loss to the Cougars. The sophomore forward also had 10 rebounds Wednesday for his third double-double this season and is averaging 20.2 points while shooting 66.3 percent.
This will be the second high-profile test for Arizona, which lost to then-No. 6 Kansas 87-79 in Las Vegas on Nov. 27. Williams had 25 points and eight rebounds, but the Wildcats committed 19 turnovers and allowed the Jayhawks to shoot 54.4 percent.
He had 17 points and seven rebounds in last season’s loss to BYU.
This is the second straight Saturday the Cougars are playing at the EnergySolutions Arena, having defeated Hawaii 78-57 last week.
Fredette, who averages 22.7 points, had 16 in that win and went 0 for 4 from beyond the arc - the only time this season he’s failed to make a 3-pointer. He is six points shy of passing Mekeli Wesley (1,735) for seventh on BYU’s all-time list.
While Fredette garners most of the attention for the Cougars, senior guard Jackson Emery and junior forward Noah Hartsock also are making significant contributions.
Emery is averaging 11.9 points and 2.8 steals, while Hartsock is adding 10.6 points and 6.1 rebounds per game while shooting 51.4 percent.
The Cougars are seeking their second 10-0 start in three seasons.
Arizona leads the all-time series 20-18, and BYU has not had consecutive victories since a four-game win streak from 1971-73 when the teams were in the Western Athletic Conference.