NCAA Tournament: Jimmer and the Fredettes Dance into the Sweet 16

Jeff SucherContributor IIIMarch 21, 2011

DENVER, CO - MARCH 19:  Jimmer Fredette #32 and Jackson Emery #4 of the Brigham Young Cougars walk off of the court after defeating the Gonzaga Bulldogs during the third round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at Pepsi Center on March 19, 2011 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

It's been nearly a generation for BYU fans, but now the BYU Cougars find themselves in the Sweet Sixteen for the first time since 1981.

Jimmer Fredette and the BYU Cougars fought their way through the first two rounds with victories against Wofford and the favored Gonzaga Bulldogs.

It's hard to imagine a No. 3 seed being favored to lose, but that is the position the Cougars found themselves in Saturday evening at the Pepsi Center in Denver.

The Cougars came out strong and showed early that they would not back down to the much longer Gonzaga, easily taking the bite out of the Bulldogs with a 89-67 victory. 

Sporting two seven-footers, Gonzaga appeared on paper to have a serious advantage that the Cougars would not be able to match.

Credit Dave Rose and the Cougar coaching staff for creating a game plan that often times found the Zags bigs catching the ball at the free throw line or beyond, thus at times rendering them ineffective. 

While the Zags did outscore the Cougars in the paint and out-rebound them, the Cougars shot extremely well going 14-28 from beyond the arc and turning 14 Bulldog turnovers into fast break points on multiple occasions.

While Jimmer had his game going, shooting nearly 50 percent from the field and seven-for-12 from Jimmer Range and finishing with a game high 34, other Cougars stepped up and made the difference in the game. 

Jackson Emery finally broke out of his shooting slump with 16 points and Noah Hartsock added 13 while hitting on all three of his tre attempts.

While the game remained close in the first half and and the Zags pulling to within eight in the second half, Jimmer led the Cougars on a 12-0 run that put the game out of reach with a little over eight minutes to go.

The Cougars looked like they very firing on all cylinders for the first time since Brandon Davies was suspended for an Honor Code violation.

Coach Dave Rose took at step further:

"For 40 minutes, it might have been as good as we've been all year," Dave Rose said.

Hopefully for Cougar Nation, the team that tamed the Bulldogs will be the same team that shows up in New Orleans to play the higher seeded Florida Gators.

The Cougars snapped their seven game, first round one-and-done drought in the NCAA's last season against the Gators with a 99-92 double overtime victory. 

No doubt that Billy Donovan will have his Gators with revenge on their mind and ready to take a chomp out of Jimmer and Cougars on Thursday night. 

It should be a great college basketball game in a great atmosphere.