UNLV vs. BYU Basketball: Rebels Seek Revenge, Hope To Tame Jimmer Fredette

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UNLV vs. BYU Basketball: Rebels Seek Revenge, Hope To Tame Jimmer Fredette
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Tre'Von Willis just doesn't get it, does he?  The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.  If you look at it that way, Willis and the UNLV Runnin' Rebels don't stand a chance today in Provo.

In leading up to BYU's victory over UNLV in Las Vegas on Jan. 5, Willis called Fredette "supposedly the best player in the conference."  In response to which Fredette went into the Thomas and Mack, dropped 39 points and proved that there was no "supposedly" about it. 

Now, the Rebels have to come into Provo looking for redemption and Willis did it again, telling the Las Vegas Sun, "People don't realize that he doesn't want to pass the ball. He doesn't want to get assists.  He wants to shoot the ball every single time...We're just trying to get more guys to think like that and do it as a group. Get more people in the lanes, make it seem more clogged, give him (less) to work from."

I hope his teammates smack him.  Not only is his comment incorrect (Fredette leads his team in assists), it is downright stupid.

Jimmer Fredette is a machine fueled by the scorn of opposing players and fans.  Giving him more motivation to do what he does is a very dangerous thing indeed.  The line has BYU by eight points.  Given Willis' comments, that could easily be much higher.

Ethan Miller/Getty Images

BYU is a very dangerous team right now.  The Cougars have been unusually cold as of late.  Suffering a road loss against New Mexico and struggling to squeak one out against Wyoming.  However, the last time the Cougars lost on the road (UCLA) and then struggled to put away a less talented team (Weber State), they returned home to give UTEP a 21-point beating. 

The Cougars know they haven't played up to their potential as of late and are hungry to get home and get back to dispatching opponents by double digits.  However, UNLV is not to be dismissed.  While probably not in a realistic discussion for a conference title this year, the Rebels are an improved team from a month ago and should play like they have everything to gain against BYU.  This series hasn't been swept by either team in many years.  This is not a game where the Cougars can afford to come out slow.

The keys to the game are going to be BYU's big men along with Jackson Emery.  Noah Hartsock and Brandon Davies must keep the post closed out.  They must keep the Rebels from getting offensive rebounds and multiple second-chance opportunities.  If they don't, BYU could easily be 21-3 at the end of the game.

As for Emery, he needs to shut Willis down and find his range again from distance.  He, not Fredette, was the difference in Round 1 of this series and must live up to that performance.  For UNLV, they will need to eat clock and control the tempo to keep BYU from getting open looks in transition.

Oh, and Tre'Von Willis needs to stop talking.

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