Saturday, February 12th, 2011
Marriott Center, Provo, UT
The Marriott Center was rockin' for this one. It was THE rivalry game. BYU - UTAH. Cougars - Utes.
The first half started at a slow pace, with both teams not connecting on shots consistently. What kept the Cougars in this game was an outstanding first half performance by Charles Abouo. Chuck was connecting on his three-point shot (something that has been inconsistant to non-consistant this entire season), and running the floor very well. On multiple steals by Emery & Davies, Charles was out in front to receive fast-break passes for easy layups. He had 16 first half points and ended up finishing with 22 points and 10 rebounds for his first career double-double (not confirmed, but it is rumored that Abouo went to In-N-Out after the game to celebrate).
Jackson Emery appears to be back and in fine working order. He has 17 points, 6 steals, 5 assists & 4 rebounds. That matches his point and assist output from the Air Force game. Since the San Diego State game Jackson had been going through a slump of sorts (SDSU-4pts, 4stls UNM-6pnts, 3 stls WYO-12pnts, 3 stls UNLV-15 pnts, 4 stls). More than anything Emery's three point shot has left him. Since, and including, the SDSU game Jax has shot 12 for 42 (29%) from long distance. In this game he went 0 for 2 but was a lot more aggressive on the offensive end, matching his always defensive intensity. By forcing the issue he was able to draw fouls and get free throw opportunities, where he went 5 for 5.
Jimmer Fredette was hounded everywhere he went on the floor. He was getting hand checked with the ball in his hand, hip checked coming off of screens and body checked (and tripped) coming through the lane. Even I could see from section 148 that this was bothering him. Jimmer had a lot of scoop shots at the rim that normally fall for him, but they were not dropping in this game with their normal consistency. Fredette had 8 points in the first half. It seemed as though Utah covered him the second he stepped across the half-court line (Rightfully so, because we all know that the definition of "Jimmer" is "one who is within range as soon as he steps off the bus"). Jimmer had a 12 point spurt in the second half, hitting 2 threes in that time period. But the frustration was definitely there. There were a two plays were he drove into the lane, got abused by the Ute defense and was either called for a charge or called for stepping out of bounds. Both times Jimmer, obviously frustrated with the officials, threw the ball to the official at half-court instead of the one there at the baseline. One time Jackson Emery had to get in his face and tell him to cool down. After a very nice three point play on drive with a foul, Coach rose subbed Jimmer out at the request of one of the referees. Jimmer finished with 23 points but was not permitted to speak to the media after the game (those duties went to Jackson and Charles). I do not blame Jimmer at all. I think his frustration was justified, but I think this is how teams are going to cover him from here on out, all the way through the NCCAs. I hope his teammates can continue to step up and force teams to play more honest defense on the entire team, thus taking some of the weight (and various body parts) off of Jimmer.
All that being said, hats off to the Utes. They played a lot better than I was expecting. They mad a game of it for the first 30 minutes. There is definetly some talent on that team, they just don't play very well as a team. Good luck in the Pac-12.
Player of the game: Charles Abouo
Play of the Game: Davies high screen for Fredette. Jimmer curls off and hits from about 26 feet (just a guess, I have not read any other recap's that might have the exact distance) straight away. (I picked this one because everyone was getting ansi in the arena. They want to see Jimmer hit from long distance and he delivered. The place erupted when that shot went in.)
P.S. of the game: To the Utah Cheerleaders that were screaming in the corner when our guys would shoot free throws, "The gimmick was over after about the 3rd time, and if you noticed your shrills were not working after that. Shut up!"