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Wednesday, May 22, 2024
The independent student publication of The University at Buffalo, since 1950

Glens Falls Kid Made It Rain at Alumni

People who witnessed the men's basketball team play on Thursday night left Alumni Arena talking about one name that they probably won't soon forget - Jimmer Fredette.

The All-American left fans with dropped jaws after his 28-point second half performance led No. 16 nationally ranked Brigham Young (13-1) over the Bulls (7-4), 90-82.

Senior point guard Byron Mulkey was part of a courageous first half defensive effort against Fredette. The BYU point guard only managed six points on 1-of-9 shooting and his team, up by two at the break, left the Bulls feeling like they could compete in the game.

The second half was a completely different story, however, and Fredette illustrated why he is one of the nation's most prolific scorers. His 34 points was a season-high and he shot 10-of-15 from the field in the second half. He also finished with six assists and two rebounds.

Fredette attributed his success after halftime to his ability to leave things in the past.

"You have to have short term memory loss," Fredette said. "You have to go out and know you're a good player and be confident that you will shoot shots because you know your team needs that. My shots started to fall [in the second half]."

The atmosphere in Alumni Arena was something to behold. The 5,803 fans in attendance brought the Arena to life for a change this season. In the teams first five home games, the combined attendance equaled 6,822.

Thursday night against BYU totaled the largest crowd at Alumni Arena since December 9, 2006 against Pittsburgh and Bulls head coach Reggie Witherspoon really appreciated the support.

"I think these guys are worth supporting and when we get [as loud as we did during the BYU game] it really helps us," Witherspoon said. "I want badly for these guys to experience a sea of blue and get a real home-court advantage from a crowd."

BYU head coach Dave Rose told Witherspoon that the Cougars average about 6,000 students and 9,000-10,000 season ticket holders at every game.

Witherspoon implores UB students to come support the Bulls when they get back from winter break.

Buffalo had five players reach double digits in scoring. Junior forward Mitchell Watt led the way with 17 points in arguably his best game of the season. His effort on the glass (six rebounds) and on defense (three blocks) really helped the Bulls stay in the game.

Watt set the tone for the Bulls after halftime by throwing down a dunk to tie the game at 39, getting a roar from the crowd. However, BYU quickly responded with a 13-2 run and an exclamation-point 3-pointer by Fredette to extend the Cougars' lead to 52-41.

The Bulls came storming back, even after the BYU standout started heating up. Buffalo came within one with 11:29 remaining on a Watt lay in. But Fredette inserted the dagger in Buffalo with his fourth triple of the game. His shot started a 10-0 run that the Bulls never recovered from.

BYU head coach Dave Rose was happy with how his team played and thought the Bulls and Witherspoon were very impressive.

"Buffalo just wouldn't quit," Rose said. "We put four or five shots on them and they just kept coming back. I was really impressed with their post guys and the way all four of them played together…It was a really competitive game and I'm really impressed with [Buffalo]. They're going to win a lot of games."

Mulkey finished the game with 16 points, eight assists, two rebounds, and two steals. With the Bulls down 54-49 with about 12 minutes remaining in the second half, he smartly in bounded the ball off a BYU big man under the basket and managed to lay it up and in.

The Bulls continue to be fueled by the smart play of Mulkey, and his leadership ability was evident against BYU as he maintained a consistent level of confidence throughout the game. Fredette liked what he saw from the fifth-year senior.

"[Mulkey] is a tough point guard," Fredette said. "He's a tough-minded kid that can make plays. He's athletic and can get into you defensively...He looks like a good leader for that team. He did a good job."

Bulls' head coach Reggie Witherspoon had high praise for Fredette as well.

"There were times when we did everything right [defensively] and Jimmer Fredette pulls from 35-feet and knocks it down," Witherspoon said. "If you do a bad job on him he gets 50 [points]…Before the game I was trying to recall when a better college player visited the area. I don't debate that now; he's a bad dude."

While Fredette was the obvious difference in the game, the Bulls inability to avoid mistakes was a contributing factor in the loss. Buffalo turned the ball over 20 times in the game as opposed to 13 by BYU. The Cougars scored 25 points off those turnovers.

Freshman forward Javon McCrea turned in another outstanding performance. He scored 15 points in 23 minutes, grabbed four rebounds, had three assists, two steals and a blocked shot.

The Bulls will travel to Cornell (3-9) to battle the Big Red at Newman Arena on Monday night. Tip off is scheduled for 7 p.m.

E-mail: sports@ubspectrum.com


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