Goliath Meets Goliath in Provo

BYU brings a couple shooters to Wednesday's duel

By Michael Gehlken
|  Wednesday, Jan 26, 2011  |  Updated 4:25 PM PDT
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Goliath Meets Goliath in Provo

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San Diego State's D.J. Gay (left) and Brigham Young's Jimmer Fredette headline a storied matchup on Jan. 26, 2011.

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The matchup reads like some archaic tale — Goliath versus Goliath, titan on titan — with the type of buildup that makes Christmas morning look like just another Saturday.

On Wednesday night, the San Diego State men’s basketball team walks into Provo, Utah, with guns blazing, holstering a 20-0 record and a No. 4 national ranking that keeps on climbing.

The ninth-ranked host Brigham Young packs a 19-1 record and a triggerman, senior guard Jimmer Fredette, who is the hottest shooter and leading scorer in the country.

The Aztecs and Cougars both average 1.16 points per possession, tied for sixth best in the nation. The San Diego State defense allows 0.93 points per drive. BYU: 0.94.

It is being called the biggest regular season game in Aztecs program history and a complete cakewalk for the university’s promotions department.

 “I didn’t think it would be as big as it is as the media and everybody is making it out to be,” said D.J. Gay, senior Aztecs point guard. “I’m glad it’s this big. It’s going to give the team an NCAA Tournament feel.

“We have to go out there and stay focused for 40 minutes to go into their house and come away with a win. With all the hype surrounding this game, it’s going to show how mentally strong we are to be able to play with all the surrounding media stuff.”

That and a screaming sellout crowd of 22,700 at the Marriot Center.

Yes, 22,700.

Want more numbers? Fredette is good for that.

There are the 26.7 points he averages per game (again, first in the nation — and comfortably so), the 3.2 made three-pointers per game (sixth), and a 41 percent kill rate from beyond the arc that is actually three percentage points lower than it was last season.

Fredette is good on a team that is uncomfortably good.

“I'd rather be playing a team that I knew wasn't real good on Wednesday, to be honest with you,” Aztecs coach Steve Fisher said, “than a team that I know is a legitimate Final Four contender in BYU.”

Jackson Emery is what Gay calls the Robin to Fredette’s Batman. The quick senior guard has had at least one steal in 53 of the 55 games played over the past two seasons. He averages 13.0 points per game and has been on fire from beyond the arc, going 14-for-24 in the past three games.

But that was then, and this is now.

On Wednesday, in walks perfection from the salloon door. The Aztecs have never been 21-0 before. BYU has only once been 20-1.

Take 10 paces and turn around.

At 7 p.m., the two Philistines draw.
 

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