This was exactly the type of game every BYU fan should have been hoping for.
This game has been highly anticipated since the last time these two teams met, and things have only gotten more intense as the game got closer. It could be argued that leading up to the game, it was the biggest game of the college season.
You have two teams in the top seven in the country that had lost a combined total of three games on the season. They are both having the best seasons in their teams history and the stakes never could have been higher.
It also featured the most publicized player in the country this season. If you have heard of ESPN you have likely heard the name Jimmer as well. Whether the publicity is deserved or not is a whole different debate, but there are not many individuals with more pressure on them right now. When expectations are high people either excel, or fall apart.
Jimmer continues to excel.
He put up 25 points as well as nine assists for a guy that some have criticized as a selfish scorer. The way that he started it looked like he was going for another 40 point game or better, but credit the Aztecs for slowing him down.
They played some stifling defense at times through the game that really frustrated Jimmer. However, anyone would find some difficulty when you are being double and triple teamed. The real story of this game were the contributions of the team as a whole.
Fredette remains the star of this team, and no one would be surprised by that assessment, but on this day it was the contributions of his teammates that made the difference.
Four of five starters scored at least 13 points, with Jackson Emery being the low man. However, Jackson's contributions on the defensive end are what made him so vital. He cut off angles and caused all kinds of difficulty for the Aztecs passing the ball. He was only credited with two steals, but he created many more.
Charles Abouo knew he was going to have a good night shooting when his first three early in the first half from the corner banked in. He ended up going four of five from behind the arc and six for 11 overall. He also was one rebound shy of getting a double-double.
Charles Davies was the lone starter not in double figures, but his work down low cannot be overlooked. He was banging all day with players that were noticeably bigger than him. He brought down some hard fought rebounds and had an excellent defensive showing.
The player who came the closest to stealing the spotlight from Jimmer—like that is going to happen—was Noah Hartsock. Hi fifteen points and six rebounds were a valuable contribution, but his four blocks could not have been more valuable.
San Diego St. owned the offensive glass, but had very few second chance point in large part due to the blocks from Hartsock and the tough defense of Davies. While no one is expecting Hartsock to go to the NBA, he is an extremely valuable big man that is an inside-out threat who really showed up huge today.
The Aztecs made a valuable effort, but right now there is no stopping BYU. They threw everything they had at BYU and the Cougars responded every single time.
If I were looking at teams going into the tourney that I would not want to face, BYU would be one of them. There is always the high likelihood that Jimmer will just go off, but this team can also put it all together and get those vital team wins like they did today.
The sky is the ceiling with this team, and I really think they are going to push that ceiling high as March Madness kicks into full gear starting next week.