BYU is set to face Utah for the second time this season.
Jimmer Fredette scored two games’ worth of points in the first meeting alone.
Fredette seeks an encore for what was one of the top performances of his remarkable career Saturday when the No. 7 Cougars host the slumping Utes.
The nation’s leading scorer (27.5 points per game), Fredette is in the midst of a phenomenal senior season, highlighted by a run of three 40-point efforts in four games. Fredette started that stretch Jan. 11 in a 104-79 rout of Utah in Salt Lake City, scoring 47 points - a season high and two shy of his career best.
“Heck of a player,” Utah coach Jim Boylen said after his team suffered its fourth straight loss to BYU and eighth in nine meetings.
Fredette was virtually unstoppable, hitting 16 of 28 from the field overall, 9 of 9 free throws and 6 of 9 3-pointers, including a 40-foot heave to beat the first-half buzzer.
“Some of those shots we really couldn’t do anything about,” said junior Will Clyburn, who led the Utes with 23 points in the loss to the Cougars. “We’re looking forward to the next game at their place. We’re going to get them.”
That won’t be an easy task. In addition to its losing streak in this series, Utah (10-14, 3-7 Mountain West) has dropped four straight overall and 11 of 14. Meanwhile, BYU (23-2, 9-1) is 10-0 in Provo this season and extended its current overall win streak to three Wednesday night with a 90-52 blowout at Air Force.
Fredette led all scorers with 25 points against the Falcons despite being double-teamed all game and bruising his right knee during the contest.
“Their game plan was to be very, very, very, very physical with me,” said Fredette, who expected his knee would be fine after some ice treatment. “That’s probably the most aggressive I’ve been played. I was still able to get some shots off, and my outside shot was going a little bit. It was a little frustrating, but our team just played great in general. We had a great win.”
Jackson Emery added 17 points, 15 of them on 3-pointers. Fredette made 5 of 8 from beyond the arc as the senior backcourt duo led the Cougars to a 15-for-30 3-point effort as a team.
“When they shoot the ball like that, they will beat a lot of teams,” Air Force coach Jeff Reynolds said.
Emery also had a stellar night at Salt Lake City last month, scoring 20 points and making 5 of 7 3-point attempts.
Utah’s earlier loss to BYU followed a defeat to the Mountain West’s other ranked team, San Diego State. The Utes will try to avoid a repeat after falling 85-53 on the road Tuesday to the No. 6 Aztecs.
Clyburn, the conference’s second-leading scorer behind Fredette with 18.3 points per game, scored 18 and added eight rebounds against San Diego State. He was the only Utah player in double figures.