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Fredette goes crazy as Cougars win 82-69

Emery: C'mon, do me this one favor.

Henderson: Why?
Emery: Why? I don't know why; I don't know. Never been in a fight. You?
Henderson: No, but that's a good thing.
Emery: No, it is not. How much can you know about yourself, you've never been in a fight? I don't wanna die without any scars. So come on; hit me before I lose my nerve.
Henderson: This is crazy.
Emery: So go crazy. Let 'er rip.
Henderson: I don't know about this.
Emery: I don't either. Who cares? No one's watching. What do you care?
Henderson: Whoa, wait, this is crazy. You want me to hit you?
Emery: That's right.
Henderson: What, like in the face?
Emery: Surprise me.
Henderson: This is so stupid...

[Henderson swings, connects against Emery's face]

Okay, so maybe it didn't go down quite like this. Maybe it was more like this. Actually, it was probably somewhere in between. Here's what Jackson Emery had to say after the game (via Jay Drew at the Trib):

"It was just heat of the moment. You know, I know Marshall is a good competitor, a good guy. So nothing against him. But it was just one of those things where it just happened, and the refs took care of it, and there's not much else to be said about it."

Asked if Henderson made contact, Emery said:

"You know, he got me a little bit, but you know, we are just going to leave it at that."

Asked if he was mad at Henderson for throwing the ball at Jonathan Tavernari's chest, Emery said:

"No. I fouled him, obviously, and he went out of bounds, and he was just continuing to play, and he tried to throw the ball off JT, and I was just trying to, you know, keep the two apart and not escalate anything, and that was about that."

But that wasn't the real story of the game.

Oh my goodness. At 6:55 left in the second half the Utes pulled within four. Then Jimmer went off like Mario after hitting a star. I think you could even here this music playing in the Marriott Center at one stretch. Fredette led a 14-2 run to squash Utah's hopes: 3-pointer, 3-pointer, ridiculous 3-point all he finished with 23 points in the second half and 36 for the game. This off-set an impressive performance by Jay Watkins and some valuable defense from the Utes' young giant David Foster (4 blocks and an innumerable amount of shots altered).

But while Fredette was the major bright spot as usual for the Cougars - with Haws and Abouo (again) playing well also - there were many areas of the game where the Cougars could have improved. Noah Hartsock was nearly non-existent after playing well against the Lobos earlier in the week. Emery's shooting woes continued though his contributions in other areas were fantastic: 7 rebounds, 6 steals, 4 assists. Miles wasn't as bad as he was against New Mexico but he was clearly flustered by Foster's presence on a number of possessions. He did have a couple of nice interior passes however.

It's hard to know but I think the Utes' second half run could have been avoided if Rose had put Abouo in the game on Watkins. Tavernari was simply not able to stay in front and Haws was too undersized. But Charles has been playing wonderful lately and deserves to see more than 10 minutes of action - especially in these type of situations.

The Utes beat the Cougars on the glass (37-31) but shot so poorly from deep (4/18) and committed so many more turnovers (16-6) that it didn't matter too much. The Utes' transition defense was also less than terrific, even if it is nearly impossible to keep up with Emery on the break. In all Fredette was the clear difference-maker between these two teams but there were plenty of areas for the Cougars to improve upon so as to not rely on Jimmer so much down the stretch - something that will be much harder to do in Las Vegas.

Boylen applaudes Utes' battling play - Salt Lake Tribune
Cougars dominate Utes in both acting and on the court - Block U
Cougars down Utes in hotly contested battle - Daily Herald
Cougars, Fredette hold off Utes - Deseret News
Jimmer showing 'something special'- Salt Lake Tribune

Mountain West Conference Standings

(updated 1.31.2010 at 12:03 AM PST)

Conf Overall
BYU Cougars 6 1 21 2
New Mexico Lobos 6 2 20 3
UNLV Runnin Rebels 5 2 17 4
San Diego St. Aztecs 4 3 15 6
Colorado St. Rams 3 4 12 9
Utah Utes 3 4 10 11
TCU Horned Frogs 2 5 10 12
Wyoming Cowboys 2 5 9 12
Air Force Falcons 1 6 9 11