Guard adds to highlight reel with 34 points, powers BYU into Sweet 16

DENVER — The game was decided, the clock ticking down and the Brigham Young fans were the ones doing the celebrating.

"Sweet 16! Sweet 16!" they shouted. Then, an even more fitting refrain: "You got Jimmered!"

Yep, Gonzaga sure did.

And next, Jimmer Fredette takes his high-scoring show to the Big Easy.

The nation’s leading scorer lived up to the hype once again Saturday, going for 34 points to lift third-seeded BYU to an 89-67 victory over 11th-seeded Gonzaga and send the Cougars to New Orleans for the regional semifinals.

"He can shoot it from anywhere, as soon as he steps on the floor," said Gonzaga’s Steven Gray, now on the long list of guards who couldn’t stop Fredette.

BYU (32-4) will make its deepest trip in the NCAA Tournament since 1981, the year Danny Ainge went coast to coast against Notre Dame for a last-second game winner — a play that holds a special place in the school’s rich sports history.

Fredette has a few dozen of his own clips on that highlight reel, with a chance to add some more Thursday against Florida, a 73-65 winner over UCLA on the other side of the Southeast regional.

In this game, the hoop must have seemed as wide as the Mississippi for The Jimmer.

"Believe it or not, I thought we defended him OK," Gonzaga coach Mark Few said.

Fredette shot 7-for-12 from 3-point range, 11-for-23 overall, and after having trouble getting shots over Gonzaga’s tough defense in the first half, he found his rhythm in the second.

He opened the half by pulling up from 5 feet beyond the upper-right part of the 3-point arc and swishing the shot. That triggered an 11-2 run that put BYU up 56-40.

Gonzaga pulled within eight, but with 8:58 left, Fredette made a shot from the same spot as part of a 12-0 run that expanded the lead to 20.

Game over, and the rest was simply a matter of seeing where No. 32’s scoring line would settle. He came up short of the 52 points he scored earlier this month in the Mountain West Conference tournament against New Mexico but had enough to bump his average up a couple of notches, to 28.8.

What a weekend for BYU, a program that makes the NCAA Tournament almost every year but hasn’t made it out of the first weekend since the Reagan administration.

"It was very important," Fredette said. "It was one of my goals coming into this season. I wanted to get to the second weekend and so did this team, so it’s extremely important."

It wasn’t all Fredette. He didn’t get his first shot off until almost three minutes into the game and didn’t score until the 11:33 mark, which had to seem like dog years for a team that grew even more dependent on its star earlier this month when leading rebounder Brandon Davies was suspended for violating the school’s honor code.

For the first time since then, BYU genuinely looked like it had some legitimate second options.

Jackson Emery had two 3-pointers, a layup and a steal to keep BYU close during Fredette’s early scoring drought. He finished with 16 points.

Noah Hartsock added 13 points, hitting three more 3-pointers to go with the pair he made in BYU’s opening 74-66 win against Wofford.

Elias Harris and Steven Gray paced the Zags (25-10) with 18 points each.

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