Fredette leads No. 3 BYU to easy win over Wyoming
PROVO, Utah (AP)—Jimmer Fredette and No. 3 BYU finally settled down Saturday, ending a tumultuous week with a memorable victory.
Fredette scored 38 points and the Cougars clinched the top seed for next week’s Mountain West Conference tournament with a 102-78 victory over Wyoming.
Charles Abouo scored 21 of his 25 points in the second half for the Cougars (28-3, 14-2), who earned their first win since Brandon Davies was kicked off the team for breaking the school’s honor code. BYU was coming off an 82-64 loss to New Mexico on Wednesday night.
“This week’s been tough and a lot of guys it put a little pressure on them to step up,” senior guard Jackson Emery said. “But it’s great to have this win and I think settle our emotions.”
Abouo’s individual 8-0 run early in the second half helped BYU seize control after it had a 38-35 lead at halftime.
“When you’re trying to win a championship on the last day you know it’s going to be a challenge,” BYU coach Dave Rose said.
Fredette, one of the favorites for national player of the year, and Emery helped BYU grab a share of the conference title in their final home game. The Cougars earned the top seed in the MWC tourney by virtue of their two wins over No. 9 San Diego State, which also finished 14-2 in league play.
“We did what good teams do, come back and win a game, come back and win a championship,” Fredette said. “I think we can still do that, we just have to play hard, play our game, play good defense, rebound the basketball, and I think we still have the team to be able to make a good run.”
Francisco Cruz scored 13 of his 18 points in the first half for Wyoming (10-20, 3-13), which allowed 64 points in the second half. Daylen Harrison and Amath M’Baye had 12 points apiece.
Emery finished with 18 points, including back-to-back 3-pointers with about 5 minutes left that sealed the victory. Freshman Kyle Collinsworth added 11 points and a team-high eight rebounds.
“In the second half we really got it going, were able to get out in transition and make shots, and it was a great way to go out,” Fredette said.
Davies’ dismissal on Tuesday led to questions about the school’s honor code and BYU’s chances of making a run in the upcoming NCAA tournament. Davies, who was on the end of BYU’s bench Saturday in street clothes, was the team’s leading rebounder and the Cougars were outrebounded 45-29 against the Lobos.
Basically employing a four-guard lineup, BYU still managed to outrebound Wyoming 38-27, including an 11-6 advantage on the offensive glass.
“We were as committed to winning as a group as I’ve seen us in along time,” Rose said. “I think it also showed everyone else how committed we are to get this thing done.”
Fredette scored 12 of BYU’s first 18 points, including an 8-0 individual run, to help the Cougars build a five-point lead five minutes into the game.
Desmar Jackson’s basket cut the Cougars’ lead to one early in the second half, but Abouo responded with eight straight points to stake BYU to a 48-39 advantage.
“The reason we’ve been so good as of late is because of Charles, the contributions he makes on the offensive side and the defensive side,” Emery said.
Wyoming was down nine when Emery hit back-to-back 3s to lead the Cougars back to an 87-67 lead. Wyoming coach Fred Langley said foul trouble was a key part of the second half.
“We were able to play all of our guys in the first half,” Langley said.
The Cougars said Saturday’s win was a much-needed confidence booster after the loss to New Mexico. Fredette cautioned his team is not as vulnerable without Davies in the lineup as other schools might think.
“We know we still have a great team out there, a lot of guys who can step up and make shots,” he said. “We might have to go a little bit smaller, but we have guys who really compete and do things on both ends of the floor.
“I think we’re going to be fine.”