DENVER – Slowing down The Jimmer? It’s possible.
Stopping him altogether? Well, as the sign in the stands put it, “Fredette about it.”
Wofford used about every combination of defense imaginable Thursday night, but still got “Jimmered” by the nation’s leading scorer. Jimmer Fredette dropped in 32 points to lead third-seeded Brigham Young to a 74-66 victory over the Terriers in the NCAA tournament.
Fredette went 10 for 25, made 12 trips to the free-throw line and added seven assists to help the Cougars win their school-record 31st game. Next, they’ll play Gonzaga on Saturday in the Southeast region.
“He’s a great player, great scorer,” said Jamar Diggs, the Wofford guard who drew the short straw and covered Fredette much of the night. “One of best players I guarded all year.”
The 14th-seeded Terriers (21-13) lost in the first round for the second straight year, but as they did in a four-point loss to Wisconsin in 2010, they gave BYU (31-4) quite a game.
BYU played with a six- or eight-point lead for most of the second half and never turned it into the blowout that many of these 3 vs. 14 matchups can be.
But in the end, Wofford wound up like most of BYU’s opponents this season – on the losing end, with nobody to match one of the country’s most tenacious players bucket for bucket. Fredette’s 32 points were 31/2 more than his season average.
“He’s really deceptive quick,” Diggs said. “You think you’re in front of him and he’s by you. He’s quick and unlimited range. Tough matchup.”
While Fredette forced his share of shots and only went 2 for 9 from 3-point range, Wofford didn’t live up to its billing, either. The eighth-best 3-point shooting team in the country went 4 for 19 from behind the arc. Outside of post man Noah Dahlman, who went 6 for 10 en route to 22 points, none of the key players in the Wofford lineup came close to making half his shots.
“I thought we did do a great job on Fredette,” Wofford coach Mike Young said. “That he’d be 10 of 25 from the field and 2 of 9 from 3, I’d have thought we would have won the game.”
“I didn’t shoot the ball great, but I was pleased with my effort and my ability to control the game and get my other teammates involved,” Fredette said.