RTC Live: Arizona @ BYUPosted by rtmsf on December 11th, 2010
Game #71. In a battle of two of the best teams west of the Rockies, Arizona and BYU face each other in the “neutral” venue of Salt Lake City.
It is a “neutral” court show down in Salt Lake City as the BYU Cougars are taking the 20-minute drive up I-15 to face the Arizona Wildcats at the home of the Utah Jazz, Energy Solutions Arena. Arizona is 8-1, fattening up on some low level D-I teams and losing their only true test at Kansas 87-79. Sophomore forward Derrick Williams is the do-it-all man for the Wildcats. He leads the team in points (20.2 per game), rebounds (7.6), steals (1.3), and blocks (0.9). The Cougars are fresh off their 86-58 victory over Vermont in the Jimmer Fredette classic. Fredette has been drawing NBA scouts wherever he goes, because he has range that stretches well beyond the NBA arc. Join us tonight for what should amount to a great intersectional matchup.
Reminder: BYU does not allow live blogs during the game so we will post a quick update at every media timeout in accordance with their rules.
BYU 14, Arizona 8 – 15:41 1st half. Strangely this game at Energy Solutions Arena lacks the big game feel that BYU can bring at home. Fredette continues to steal the show for BYU. He has seven points already, and is getting wide open looks. Sean Miller already had to burn a timeout for Arizona to settle the team down. They have six points from Derrick Williams including one incredible ally-oop that drew applause even from the BYU faithful.
BYU 20, Arizona 10 – 11:57 first half. Arizona is working a lot of double teams at Fredette but it has yet to matter, he already has 11 points. For BYU long term I still think they need guys like Kyle Collinsworth and Brandon Davies to continue their development as reliable post players to take some heat off Jimmer and Jackson Emery. So far they are doing enough to keep Arizona honest and that’s exactly what they need. Arizona needs to work for some better shots, settling too much for long jumpers.
BYU 28, Arizona 13 – 7:48 first half. Arizona is danger of getting the doors blown off them here in Salt Lake. BYU’s 3-2 defense is giving the Wildcats fits. They can’t seem to get a good look inside. On the other side BYU isn’t missing. The obvious comparison for Fredette is J.J. Redick, but I think Fredette has a better handle than the former Duke guard. Good enough for the NBA? Yet to be determined, but his shot certainly is NBA ready.
BYU 37, Arizona 21 – 3:27 first half. Fredette just hit a three from well beyond the NBA arc much to the delight of the crowd. BYU big man Noah Hartsock went down with an apparent head injury, was dazed while walking off the court. I really like Brandon Davies game for the Cougars. He has a nice jump shot so he has to be respected from 15 feet, but can also get it done with his back to the basket. Arizona has straightened themselves out a bit, but still have yet to make a major dent in the BYU lead. They need to go inside and attack with Hartsock out and the BYU bench shortened.
BYU 44, Arizona 25 – HALFTIME. Fredette has 20 at halftime and is the star of the show so far for the Cougars. He scored 49 points when these two teams met in Tucson last year, so he will need to pick up the pace if he wants to break his school record (and if he doesn’t I will be sorely disappointed). Derrick Williams has 10 to lead the Wildcats, who can’t find any consistent offense and keep fouling on defense. By my estimation both these teams will finish in the top 3 of their respective conferences, which just goes to show how far the Pac-10 has fallen behind the Mountain West who will almost certainly send at least 3 (SDSU, UNLV, and BYU) dancing again this season. The Pac-10 might be lucky to get a couple.
BYU 55, Arizona 37 – 15:27 remaining. Arizona has looked much better in the second half. Not so many sloppy passes and ill-advised shots. Unfortunately for them they are still down 18 so they need to make a major run to come back into the game. Overheard a conversation with an NBA guy at halftime. He likes Jimmer’s game but still thinks he will be a late first round/early second round draft pick.
BYU 61, Arizona 46 – 11:33 remaining. Arizona has employed a little bit of full court pressure, but I think would be well advised to do it more often. It would speed the game up and if you trap Fredette it would make him give up the ball. The Wildcats have played defense a lot more aggressively in the second half, but have paid the price in whistles. BYU is already in the bonus, which is bad news for Arizona because the Cougars shoot free throws really well.
BYU 75, Arizona 57 – 7:27 remaining. Fredette continues to draw the biggest cheers of the night. Mostly because he’s hitting shots from well beyond the NBA arc. He has 33 points, and I don’t recall many shots he’s missed. Arizona is clearly frustrated. You can see it on their faces, and Jamelle Horne picked up an intentional foul a few minutes ago throwing down a Cougar during a box out. The Wildcats wont go away, and have matched every run in the second half but they aren’t getting any closer to catching the Cougars.
BYU 84, Arizona 61 – 3:42 remaining. Fredette checked out to a standing ovation. It looks like he has played his last minutes of the game and will finish with 33 points. Which is OK I guess. I’m still disappointed he didn’t score 49 again. In all seriousness Fredette continues to be terrific. The biggest question for him is can he carry this team throughout a rugged conference schedule or will he eventually wear down by being asked to do too much?
BYU 87, Arizona 65 FINAL. Fredette scored 33 points and the Cougars beat the Wildcats based on the strength of an excellent first half. Arizona made a couple runs in the second half but never seriously threatened BYU. Like I mentioned earlier, this game is a prime example of how good the Mountain West is and how down the Pac-10 is as these two teams are both in the top two or three in their respective conferences. Arizona is young and athletic and I’ll bet will improve over time, but they were no match for BYU tonight. Cougars get another shot at the Pac-10 next when they take on UCLA in the Wooden Classic.