In what many thought would be a trap game for BYU, Tony Snell stole the show as the New Mexico Lobos upset BYU 86-77 at The Pit Saturday afternoon.
Freshman guard Tony Snell stole the show as he led the Lobos to the upset. Snell was given the task to defend Jimmer Fredette early. The freshman stepped up and held Fredette to just 5 points through the first 17 minutes of the game. Maybe it was his length or maybe Fredette was trying to get others involved early, but whatever the case, Snell kept Fredette under wraps.
In the second half Fredette came back to life. About half way through the second half, Fredette hit back-to-back three-point shots that he had no business shooting—the first, a fade-away shot with a defender in his face; the second, a mere 30-foot pull up three with a long defender in his grill. Both shots fell, and gave BYU a 5-point lead at that point.
After that, the game seemingly was all Lobos.
Snell hit three 3-point buckets down the stretch and led the late surge for New Mexico.
Fredette tried valiantly to silence the crowd and lead his team back into the game, but failed.
Fredette finished just 12-of-26 shooting. He took 15 shots in the second half. Some say that's too many, but anyone that follows BYU basketball knows that Fredette thrives on silencing away crowds.
What "sidekick" needs to step up big the rest of the way for BYU?
BYU's supporting cast seemed not ready to play. Without Fredette's shooting, the team shot 16-for-41 from the field and 2-for-11 at the line, a dismal 17 percent.
Early in the game was especially difficult to watch. The Cougars missed some easy lay ups and had some careless turnovers trying to push the ball up the floor. If even half of those shots fall, and half of those turnovers are eliminated, BYU could have been up 10 at the half. That lead could have kept the crowd in check, and virtually taken them out of the game going into the second half.
The Pit was just a restless as ever. The fans wanted to beat BYU and let Jimmer Fredette know their true feelings about him. The crowd was so restless and intense, that seven rows of benches in the student section collapsed during the game. The Pit was crazy.
Lucky for BYU, this isn't the end of the road. BYU has a tough but winnable game in Laramie next week. They will need to come ready to play as those Cowboy fans will sure be gunning for them.
My key to a BYU rebound and victory in Laramie: Noah Hartsock. Fredette will get his, Jackson Emery and Brandon Davies will both come ready to play, but Hartsock is the key.
Watching the game against New Mexico, Hartsock, although he did finish with 10 points, should have had a much bigger output. More importantly, his defense and defensive rotation helped New Mexico have open three-point shots down the stretch. He's a great player, but didn't play to his capabilities Saturday. If BYU expects to go deep into the postseason, Hartsock will need to step his game up.
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