BUFFALO, N.Y. — More than 5,800 fans packed Alumni Arena on the campus at the University of Buffalo anticipating an All-American performance.
The UB Bulls nearly stole the show.
All-American Jimmer Fredette recovered from a sluggish first half scoring 28 of his game-high 34 points after the break to lead the 16th-ranked BYU Cougars over the University of Buffalo Bulls 90-82 in non-conference action Thursday night.
Fredette came into the game shooting 47 percent from the field and averaging 24 points per game. But the Glens Falls, N.Y. native hit just one of nine shots in the first twenty minutes as the Cougars clung to a 39-37 lead.
The senior point guard put the struggles behind and connected on five of his first six shots in the second frame.
“You have to have short term memory loss,” Fredette said of his approach to getting out of first half slump. “The key is to see the ball go in the basket. The easisest way to do that is lay ups.”
Fredette hit 10 of 15 as BYU outscored UB 51-45 after the break.
“In the first half they were quick on the ball screens,” BYU Coach Dave Rose commented. “They were closing up his space. In the second half, they weren’t as quick on those ball screens.”
Despite Fredette’s hot shooting, the Bulls refused to go away easily.
Down nine, UB’s Byron Mulkey led the Bulls back.
Javon McCrea went to his left and finished at the glass. Then, Mulkey followed with a three-point play the old-fashioned way with a reverse lay up and a foul. Dave Barnett then found Mulkey open for a three-pointer. One trip later, Mulkey finished a lay up in transition. By the time teh senior point guard led Mitchell Watt for a lay up, the Bulls had made it a one-point game at 54-53.
But that was as close as UB would get.
Fredette scored 15 of BYU’s 36 points in the game’s final 11 minutes.
“He’s definitely a competitor,” BYU’s Noah Barstock said of his teammate. “No one wants to win more than him.”
The 6’8″ Harstock connected on a trio of shots from behind the arc to lead the Cougars with 15 points at the half.
“Fortunately, my teammates kept us in the game,” Fredette added.
Harstock finished with 19 points and was one of four players with six rebounds on the night. Brandon Davies added 18 for the Cougars.
Watt led the Bulls with 17 along with six boards. Mulkey added 16 to go with a game-high eight assists. McCrea scored 15. Barnett had 11 and six rebounds, Zach Filzen chipped in 12 for UB.
UB falls to 7 and 4 on the season. The Bulls play at Cornell on January 3rd before opening Mid-American Conference play on January 8th when Bowling Green comes to Buffalo.
BYU improves to 13 and 1. The Cougars play Fresno Pacific on New Year’s night and open Mountain West Conference play January 5th at UNLV.