Jimmer Fredette is the biggest reason BYU could be in for a memorable season. He isn’t the team’s only senior guard, however, that opponents have to worry about.
Jackson Emery looks to build on his best game of the season as the 16th-ranked Cougars visit Buffalo on Thursday night in the first meeting between these programs.
Fredette is one of the nation’s top scorers at 24.2 points per game and is the No. 1 player BYU opponents focus on trying to shut down. UTEP tried hard to take Fredette out of the game last Thursday, but the Mountain West preseason player of the year did an excellent job of finding his teammates, in many cases Emery.
Fredette finished with a season-high nine assists and Emery had a season-best 23 points in an 89-68 win over the Miners. Emery came off the bench for the second straight game as a shin injury has kept him from practicing, but still managed to hit a career-high six 3-pointers for the Cougars (12-1), winners of two straight since an 86-79 loss to UCLA on Dec. 18.
“I’m really happy for Jackson,” coach Dave Rose said. “The guy loves to practice at the pace he played out there. He really helped the team.”
Fredette also had a strong performance, finishing with 25 points despite being pushed around by a physical UTEP team.
“They collapse a lot when you drive to the basket,” said Fredette, who has scored at least 25 points in each of his last five games. “It happens. Sometimes teams will do that. But you’ve got to play. You can’t get frustrated. You’ve got to find other ways to make plays and score.”
If Fredette and Emery can continue to make plays, BYU, among the highest-scoring teams in the nation at 82.7 points per game, could be difficult to beat, especially for a seemingly overmatched opponent like Buffalo.
The Bulls (7-3) have won three straight and are 5-0 at home, but haven’t faced the toughest schedule.
They haven’t played an opponent with a winning record at home and this will be their first contest against a Top 25 team since losing to fourth-ranked Purdue 101-65 last December. Buffalo is winless in 12 games against ranked opponents since the 1996-97 season.
The Bulls haven’t played since defeating Houghton, of the NAIA, 79-47 on Dec. 18. Junior guard Zach Filzen, who averages a team-best 16.3 points, had a game-high 21 as all 11 Buffalo players scored and grabbed at least one rebound.
“Houghton stretched us out good which was a good test for us,” coach Reggie Witherspoon told the Bulls’ official website. “I thought it was a good game for some of our younger guys to get some extended minutes. We needed to have a game at this time.”