ATB: Nothing Could Be Finer Than to Drop a 49er…Posted by rtmsf on December 29th, 2009
Jimmer Fredette Eviscerates Arizona. BYU 99, Arizona 69. It was a Jimmer Fredette kind of night in the desert tonight, as he torched the home team Arizona Wildcats for 49 points from everywhere on the court, setting a new BYU player and McKale Center record in the process. Fredette said afterward that he “had a good stroke,” and that’s the understatement of the decade, as he hit 16-23 shots (along with seven boards and nine assists), including 9-13 from three and 8-9 from the line to end up with the record in 36 minutes of play. More importantly, BYU served notice to the national media (ahem…) that the Cougars deserve consideration for the top 25 as they now sit at 13-1 with the sole loss at rival Utah State nearly a month ago. Arizona had been skating by with recent home wins thanks to Nic Wise’s heroics last week, but BYU left no doubt tonight as to who the superior team in this game was. A fifteen-point lead only continued to grow after the half as Fredette’s jumpers rained from everywhere on the court. What’s even more interesting is that BYU continues to play well and win games while getting almost nothing from their other “star” Jonathan Tavernari, who had two points and five rebounds tonight in 22 minutes of action. His numbers this season (9/5) are way down versus last year (16/7), which might explain why Fredette is feeling the need to pick up the slack (82 pts the last two games). If Dave Rose can get his other star player’s confidence back, BYU will absolutely be a team to watch coming out of the Mountain West this season.
RTC Live. North Carolina 81, Rutgers 67. Would you believe that with 2:11 to go in this game in Chapel Hill tonight that the score was 71-67 with the home team barely hanging on? Luckily for UNC fans, Dexter Strickland’s three from the corner with 2:01 remaining gave the Heels just enough breathing room to salt the game away, and Carolina hit FTs for the last ten points of the game and the final margin. Still, Roy Williams was hopping mad afterward, unhappy with just about everything about this game, not least of which was what he felt was poor decision-making throughout… including the decision to shoot the game-clinching three by Strickland mentioned above: “I hated the shot, but it went in and talent took over above coaching and intelligence,” Williams said. Sixteen turnovers (including seven by the PG duo of Strickland and Larry Drew II) undoubtedly contributed to Williams’ ire, as many times those TOs could have extended a lead in the first half but instead led to a fast-break bucket by Rutgers. Mike Rosario led the Scarlet Knights with 22/3 assts on 10-21 shooting, but it was his 1-9 from deep that really hurt their comeback attempts (the whole team was miserable from outside, going 3-23 from three). Despite Strickland’s career-high night in points and assists (18/4), our third on-site viewing of Carolina this year revealed many of the same problems that we saw a month ago. Point guard play isn’t consistent and as such, the fortunes of this year’s Carolina team will largely depend on just how dominant the big men can be inside and on the boards. Against most teams, they’re good enough to rely on that aspect of their team; but the ACC is a different animal, and early games against Clemson, Georgia Tech and Wake Forest will test their mettle.
Other Games of National Interest.
- #19 Temple 63, Bowling Green 39. The Temple defense continues to swarm teams, tonight holding Bowling Green to 13 first-half points, 39 for the game and an ice-cold 28% from the field in a game played at the old McGonigle Hall down the block from the Liacouras Center. Ryan Brooks had 19/6/6 assts for the Owls, and Ramone Moore added 17/4 assts off the bench. After a Wednesday game against Northern Illinois, the nation’s #1 team visits Temple on Saturday in what should be a great test for both teams (the second-best offensive team versus the third-best defensive team).
- #22 Gonzaga 94, Eastern Washington 52. Gonzaga rebounded from their embarrassing loss to Duke a little more than a week ago by obliterating EWU tonight behind Elias Harris’ 22/7/3 stls and four other players that reached double figures. Even so, free throw shooting remains a problem for the Zags — they shot a paltry 15-29 from the line tonight, and their 68.7% on the season is currently the worst in the WCC.
- Wake Forest 75, UNC-Greensboro 60. Wake is a sneaky team that we’re going to have to keep an eye on just outside the top 25 all season. Al-Farouq Aminu had a monster game with 23/17/3 assts/6 blks, and the team set a new school record with sixteen swats on the night. Keep on eye on these guys outside the top quarter of ACC teams this year.
- Nevada 78, Portland 69. Ok, we’re officially declaring all the Portland goodwill that the Pilots earned with their performance in the 76 Classic dead. Luke Babbitt came off the bench to drop 22/7/3 assts/5 stls in the Wolfpack’s sixth win in the last seven outings. Portland has now lost five of their last seven games, and in our opinion, the Pilots will have to win the WCC to earn an NCAA Tournament bid (still possible).
- Florida 76, American 60. The Gators rebounded from a three-game losing streak by getting a career-high 18 points from Vernon Macklin to go with 19/6/4 assts from Kenny Boynton and 20/9 from Alex Tyus. We’re still not sold on this team in the long term, but this is a step in the right direction.
- Pittsburgh 65, DePaul 52. The first Big East game for both teams had Ashton Gibbs drop 23/7/4 assts on the hapless Blue Demons, who shot 35% and lost their twentieth conference game in the last two seasons. Pitt is now 11-2, and while we’re not expecting the Panthers to be a contender this year, it’s pretty amazing that Jamie Dixon has this team playing so well with all the turnover and injuries they’ve faced this year.