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No ‘supposedly’ about it: Jimmer is MWC’s finest

Jimmer’s under the boards. Jimmer’s in the open. Jimmer makes the shot.

Actually, it was a character named "Jimmy" — not Jimmer — who hooped it at Jerry’s and Kramer’s expense in a popular "Seinfeld" episode called "The Jimmy."

But after watching Brigham Young’s Jimmer Fredette drive under the boards and get himself open and make the shot for the past four years, it might surprise UNLV basketball fans to discover that Jimmer Fredette does not refer to himself in the third person, and that Jimmer Fredette does not wear special plyometric basketball shoes that isolate the muscles.

For the first 13 minutes of Wednesday night’s Mountain West Conference opener in front of a raucous Thomas & Mack Center crowd of 17,942, it appeared the 19 or so guys UNLV coach Lon Kruger had assigned to guard Fredette were the ones wearing the plyometric shoes.

With 7:17 to play in the first half, Fredette had just three points on 1-for-7 shooting. Not coincidentally, UNLV led, 23-15.

It was at that point Fredette left the game. For a grand total of nine seconds.

Apparently, it was all the rest he needed. Let the record show that Fredette’s recuperative powers are greater than Popeye’s with a full load of spinach.

Suddenly, Jimmer was under the boards again, Jimmer was in the open again, Jimmer was making the shot again. First person, second person, third person. It doesn’t matter when Jimmer is feeling it, and, boy, was he ever feeling it.

At halftime, BYU was back on top, 38-35. At halftime, Fredette had 17 points on 6-for-13 shooting.

At the end of the game, Fredette had a season-high 39 points on 12-for-25 shooting, including 7 of 13 on 3-point shots.

At the end of the game, 15th-ranked BYU had an 89-77 victory in a showdown of nationally ranked teams that was surprisingly easy.

Two days before the game, UNLV’s Tre’Von Willis had said the 6-foot-2-inch Fredette "supposedly" is the best player in the conference. With all respect due San Diego State’s Kawhi Leonard, Willis might want to amend that to "definitely" the best player in the conference.

After the Cougars took control in the second half, Fredette sought out Willis on two or three occasions during which words were exchanged. They weren’t angry words. It was more like spirited banter between a couple of guys who don’t mind bantering with spirit every now and again.

"Just friendly competition, you know how it is," said Fredette, who might have scored 50 points, had some of his shots that had gone into the basket not come right back out again. He also had six rebounds and five assists, combining with backcourt running mate Jackson Emery (22 points) to wear out the Rebels beyond the arc.

"He’s a competitor; I’m a competitor," Fredette said. "Obviously, we both want to win, we both want to play well. So it was just about that."

Well, it was about a little more than that. Fredette said Willis’ comment in the morning newspaper did not go unnoticed.

"You know, I did see it," said the BYU sharpshooter, who came into the game averaging 24.1 points. "I reminded him about it, and then I just went out and played my game. I don’t worry too much about (that stuff). I know if I go out and play my game, I’ll play well."

Willis wasn’t quite as talkative about his part of the conversation.

"I just told him to score on me," Willis said. "That’s all I said."

Willis did a decent, if not excellent, job on Fredette when he was matched up with the BYU star. According to one press row observer, Fredette made 1 of 11 shots when Willis was guarding him.

If that was the case, Willis, who scored 14 points on 4-for-16 shooting, should have been on Fredette more often.

If that was the case, then Kruger probably needs to make one of the adjustments he is known for the next time these teams play.

"We didn’t extend as far as we needed to," Kruger said, failing to mention the Rebels would have needed to extend to Primm considering the distance from which Fredette and Emery were letting fly.

"Credit (Fredette) with a terrific game. That doesn’t make us feel any better. Sometimes players like that win the battle, and he certainly did."

Sometimes when Jimmer’s under the boards, Jimmer’s in the open and Jimmer makes the shot — and you’re not wearing plyometric shoes — there’s not a whole lot you can do.

Las Vegas Review-Journal sports columnist Ron Kantowski can be reached at rkantowski@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0352.

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