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ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — Tony Snell hit three big shots down the stretch. Before that, he did a nice defensive number against the nation’s top scorer.
Snell, a freshman, scored a career-high 16 points and made three 3-pointers in the final five minutes, helping New Mexico beat the No. 9 Cougars 86-77 Saturday.
“I just tried to play as hard as I can,” Snell said. “Coach told me to be ready and shoot with confidence.”
Snell also made things tough for BYU’s standout scorer, Jimmer Fredette, who finished with 32 points but with Snell in his face had just five through 17 minutes.
Lobos coach Steve Alford said the idea was to use Snell’s rangy 6-foot-7 frame to wear down Fredette.
“Coach told me it was a big assignment for me,” Snell said. “He told me to use my length and maybe that would bother him a little bit, and I just did my best. He’s a great player. Oh, man. It was a hard assignment for me.”
Kendall Williams, another New Mexico freshman, also had 16 points while Drew Gordon scored 15, Dairese Gary had 14 points and 10 assists and Phillip McDonald added 11 points for the Lobos (15-7, 3-4 Mountain West), who ended BYU’s 10-game winning streak three days after the Cougars knocked off No. 4 San Diego State.
Fredette shot 12 of 26 from the field, including a 6-of-9 performance from 3-point range. But Snell did the defensive work early before Gary took the assignment in the second half, bumping Fredette and making him work to get open.
“Dairese Gary is a tough-minded kid,” Fredette said. “He’s going to battle. They did a good job. They did the same things that a lot of teams have done, just trying to be physical.”
Brandon Davies scored 15 and Noah Hartsock had 10 for the Cougars (20-2, 6-1).