Opposing teams and coaches can’t solely focus on Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger and hope to beat the Buckeyes. Locking in on trying to stop Connecticut’s Kemba Walker can’t be the sole game plan against the Huskies. Banking on Purdue’s JaJuan Johnson or Duke’s Nolan Smith to fail in a big game isn’t the game plan to beat those teams either.
Attempting to stop Jimmer Fredette is the primary focus for teams facing BYU.
And all but one has failed this season. So far, only UCLA was able to beat the Cougars as Fredette scored a mere 25 points and was 2-of-8 on 3s as the Cougars missed 13-of-17 from beyond the arc at the Wooden Classic in Anaheim.
Jimmer Fredette is averaging 27.4 points per game this season.
But when UNLV’s Lon Kruger, San Diego State’s Steve Fisher, Utah State’s Stew Morrill, UTEP’s Tim Floyd, Arizona’s Sean Miller and Saint Mary’s Randy Bennett — all accomplished coaches — designed a pregame plan, it was with the hope that they could throttle Fredette in some fashion.
It didn’t happen.
Fredette scored 39 at UNLV, 43 against SDSU, 26 against Utah State, 25 against UTEP, 33 against Arizona and 24 against Saint Mary’s. All of them were wins.
Add the 47 he hung on Utah and 42 at Colorado State and it’s hard to call what Fredette has done so far this season anything short of sensational.
Everyone on the opposing team, in the arena and watching on television knows Fredette is going to be the primary scorer and he still converts.
The common argument against him is that he doesn’t face the same competition as Walker and Sullinger. He doesn’t. But none of the other player of the year contenders are expected to put up ridiculous numbers and yet he still does it every game.
Fredette has scored 40-plus points in three of his past four, two of them on the road and then Wednesday against a stingy San Diego State defense. He hit shots in transition and with defenders draped on him. He lived up to the hype and embraced the moment from the opening tip.
The numbers Fredette has put up on the road are even more impressive. BYU coach Dave Rose said he is confident his team’s complementary players can deliver at home. But he said there is so much more pressure for Fredette to lead the Cougars on the road. And he has.
As the headline-driven culture of American sport shifts toward college basketball now that football is winding down, Fredette has been there to grab the baton.
On the night after the BCS National Championship Game, he scored 47 at Utah and immediately put college basketball atop the headlines, as “SportsCenter” spent its opening five minutes discussing the performance.
And then when the attention shifted to the San Diego State-BYU matchup — a rare chance to see a top-10 showdown outside the power six — Fredette relished the moment and stole the spotlight during the Super Bowl’s off week, creating water-cooler moments all across the country Thursday morning.
As sensational as Walker and Sullinger have been, as much as Kyrie Irving’s toe injury was and is a storyline at Duke and throughout the sport, as much as Michigan State’s implosion and Bruce Pearl’s suspension have been constant subplots, the face of the sport right now is unquestionably Jimmer Fredette.
Announcers are constantly referencing deep shots as being from “Jimmer range.’’ If someone goes for monster numbers, he is pulling a “Jimmer.”
BYU is no longer just beaten. It is “Jimmered.”
All across the country, Jimmer has become a new term. It means star.
In April, it might also mean national player of the year.