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LAS VEGAS (AP) — Jimmer Fredette didn’t need to pile on points from the foul line to score a career-high 52 in the Mountain West Conference semifinals Friday night.
He took just one free throw while firing up 37 shots from all over the floor in leading No. 8 BYU to an 87-76 win over nemesis New Mexico.
“That’s the way they called it,” Fredette said. “I was just fortunate enough to be making shots.”
The top-seeded Cougars (30-3) play edin Saturday’s title game against No. 7 San Diego State, which beat UNLV 74-72 in the other semifinal. The results from the MWC title game wasn’t available at press time.
Fredette sank 22 buckets, including seven 3-pointers, and in the process broke Danny Ainge’s career scoring record at BYU. He now has 2,417 points, which is also a Mountain West Conference record.
“He’s very special, everyone knows that. The country knows that,” said Lobos coach Steve Alford, himself a prolific scorer at Indiana in his day. “Special players can have special evenings like this, especially in March. He had one of ‘em. He took great shots. He got into rhythm.”
And it wasn’t a one-man show.
“Jimmer had one of those real special offensive nights that kind of kept a lot of energy with our team,” BYU coach Dave Rose said. “But you watch it, it’s amazing how you can have a team win, as big a team win as this is with one player scoring 52 points. The steals by Jackson Emery, the rebounds by Kyle (Collinsworth), the toughness from Noah Hartsock, Charles Abouo, filling up the stat sheet like they did, it’s a great team win.”
Everything went right for Fredette on this night at the Thomas & Mack Center except one thing: His counterpart, Lobos senior leader Dairese Gary, an all-conference point guard, injured his knee in the second half.
Although New Mexico (21-12) hung tough without him, the Cougars didn’t have to deal with Gary’s penetrating presence and superb leadership down the stretch as they snapped a four-game losing streak to the Lobos.
“He’s been there for four years. He’s the rock to that team, keeps them all together,” Fredette said.