This is going to be a tough one to write about. Its always hard to see a player of Jimmer's caliber finish his college career. Also Jackson Emery had a great career here and Logan Magnusson was a good role player. I'll never forget those guys and I'll never forget this season and all the craziness that has gone on during this great year. Thanks Jimmer for all the memories. This season Jimmer Fredette scored 1068 points, recorded 160 assists, grabbed 127 rebounds, swiped 49 steals and made 301 three pointers. Those are some pretty hefty stats. POY? Definitely. No doubt about it.
Now about the game:
Florida came out of the gate very hot hitting on 10 of their first 13 shots and took an early 10 point lead but soon cooled down quite a bit. Jimmer looked out of sync, missing a few threes and having two early layups swatted away by the Gators. Luckily for BYU, Jackson Emery was feeling it early on and hit three early treys to keep BYU close. Jimmer started taking it to the basket and making some nice layups and at the 3 minute mark BYU had their first lead since starting the game ahead 3-2. At halftime the score was all level at 36 points each and even though Jimmer was having a rough game (10 points at half), BYU was still competitive.
In the second half, Florida never led by more than 5 points and it was a back and forth affair. The refs were swallowing their whistles for both teams and at one point Jimmer took a hit on the chin which proceeded to bleed. Coach Rose called a timeout and from then on out Jimmer had a large bandage on his chin. A few minutes after the bandage incident, Jimmer finally gave the crowd what they had been waiting for all game...a deep, deep three that brought the crowd to its feet and seemed to swing the momentum in BYU's favor. Both teams only scored 5 more points in the half though. The biggest moment for BYU came when Kyle Collinsworth got fouled by a Florida player going up for a rebound. It was a 1-and-1 situation and Kyle calmly knocked down the first free throw to tie the game at 68 with :48 left on the clock. We all know that Kyle isn't the best free throw shooter on the team but I had complete faith that he would hit the second one. The shot rimmed off and into the hands of Florida who promptly called a quick timeout. They missed a shot and then Jimmer missed a long shot with a little over 10 seconds left on the game clock giving Florida a chance for the final shot of the game. The Cougars played great defense on the final possession and a running, leaning shot from the side was short and the rebound was gobbled up by BYU as time ran out.
At this point, all Florida fans must have been dreading a repeat of last year's game that the Cougars won in 2OT. Alas, this was not to happen again and Florida just played much better ball in the overtime period. Alex Tyus' emphatic dunk with 1:10 left sealed the deal with the Florida lead at 9 points. Jimmer missed his next 3-pointer and BYU's strategy turned to fouling to slow down the inevitable end of the game. When Jimmer was pulled, the crowd gave a standing ovation that was fitting for the best college player of the year. The final margin was nine points but the game was a lot closer than the final score shows. BYU and especially Jimmer just didn't have enough in the tank to hang with a deep Florida team for 45 minutes.
Looking back, there were lots of chances that BYU missed that could have won the game in regulation but there were also lots of mistakes that Florida made so its pointless to look back and say what if. Some interesting tidbits and stats from the game:
- Jackson Emery hit his first three 3-pointers of the game and then did not make another FG or FT the rest of the game, finishing with 9 points.
- Kyle Collinsworth pulled down a career high 15 rebounds.
- For all of the talk about Florida being a much taller team than BYU, they only won the rebounding battle 42-39. BYU even won the offensive rebounding battle by a 11 to 8 margin.
- BYU great Danny Ainge was in attendance.
- This was the first time in seven games that the Cougars wore Blue as the away/lower seeded team after wearing White in the final two games of the regular season (home team), all three games in the MWC tourney as the higher seed and the first two rounds of the NCAA tourney as the higher seed.