Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Saturday, Feb. 5, 2011 | 8:04 p.m.
Coupled with a forgettable offensive performance put on by the Rebels, it was those around the Cougars' All-American guard who helped BYU pull off a season sweep of Lon Kruger's club Saturday afternoon at the sold-out Marriott Center, 78-64.
It marks BYU's first regular season sweep of the UNLV since the 2003-04 campaign.
Fredette scored a game-high 29 points, but only made six field goals. Much of his damage was done with seven assists and an all-too-easy-looking 16-of-16 performance at the free throw line.
"He's a guy who can obviously score, but he's a guy who makes a lot of other good things happen for BYU," Kruger said. "We battled him, but, again, they won the battle. No question about it, he's an effective scorer, effective at making plays for teammates, effective for a lot of reasons."
Where Fredette's impact started to truly be felt was about six minutes into the game, with the two teams tied 8-8.
UNLV's Carlos Lopez was called for a technical foul after it was determined that he threw some elbows while in a loose ball tie-up. That began a run of free points for Fredette at the line, and a layup of his about four minutes later capped an 11-0 run that gave BYU (22-2, overall, 8-1 MWC) the lead for good.
The Rebels looked a bit frazzled for the rest of a half that included a technical foul on Quintrell Thomas for demonstratively arguing a call, more Fredette free throws and, most importantly, a lack of scoring punch.
UNLV (17-6, 5-4) went into the break down 38-27 after an 8-of-30 shooting performance in the game's first 20 minutes. Against BYU's 2-3 zone defense, instead of regularly attacking the basket or feeding the ball inside to break it up, the Rebels swung the ball on the perimeter too much and opted for difficult deep looks.
"In the first half, I felt we kind of rushed some shots, where into the second half, we made a lot of open shots, were able to penetrate against the zone, dump it down into our big guys some and have them pass it out," sophomore guard Anthony Marshall said. "I felt the first half we kind of settled, and we can't have first halves like that against a good team like this one on the road.
"When they get up, it's hard to overcome."
Marshall led the effort in keeping UNLV afloat in the second half, driving several times while scoring a team-high 16 points and coming up with several key defensive plays.
But while UNLV was coming alive a bit, Fredette's supporting cast made big shot after big shot.
The most unlikely hero was sophomore back-up forward Stephen Rogers, who played 21 minutes while starting power forward Brandon Davies was limited for much of the night with foul issues. Rogers hit two big treys of his own, scored 12 points and took down eight rebounds. It was only his third time this season scoring in double figures.
BYU's bench, which for much of the season has been looked at as its biggest weakness, out-scored UNLV's, 22-8.
It wasn't just UNLV's reserves who had trouble finding the bottom of the bucket, though.
As a team, the Rebels were 18-of-60 (30 percent) from the floor and 6-of-23 from long range. It marked the second straight game where the trio of Chace Stanback, Oscar Bellfield and Tre'Von Willis struggled from the field.
They combined to go just 7-of-25 on Wednesday in a home win against Utah, and on Saturday were 9-of-28. Bellfield was 1-of-11 from the floor in 39 minutes of run.
"We felt like we came out playing how we wanted to, it's just the first half we relied on a lot of outside shots instead of penetrating and kicking out for those shots," Marshall said. "Right now, we're shooting a better percentage shooting open shots rather than contested shots."
The afternoon was capped by Fredette going on a mini-offensive spurt in the closing minutes.
His lone 3-point make of the game came with just over seven minutes to go, then three of his six field goals were in the final 3:28, with one making him the Mountain West's all-time leading scorer.
The most fascinating came with a minute left and BYU up 14.
Even though Willis wasn't as harsh with his words regarding Fredette leading into the second meeting as he was before the first, Fredette clearly wanted to give Willis a parting gift.
He called for the ball atop the key, wanting a one-on-one match-up with his biggest league rival, crossed to the right, then exploded to the left and absolutely blew down the lane for his final points of the day.
"I just tried to stay aggressive the whole entire game, no matter what or who was guarding me or whatever," Fredette said afterward, not tipping his hand at all. "We needed another basket. I wanted to score another basket, really put them away, and that's what happened."
Willis scored 15 points in 25 minutes and was brief with his comments regarding the game, citing UNLV's 13 turnovers as a key contributor in the loss and saying that even the improved defensive effort on Fredette "wasn't good enough."
"Very frustrating, because we know we can play way better than this," he said. "We've just got to prove it on the court, though."
UNLV could get a third crack at BYU in the Mountain West tournament in Las Vegas in early March, but the loss on Saturday only cut down on the Rebels' margin for error the rest of the way in league play.
• Lopez played the second half with the middle and index fingers on his right hand taped together. It was the result of a fall during the first half after a shot attempt. Kruger said after the game that Lopez's fingers bent backwards in the fall, but the extent of the injury won't be known until the team returns home. After screaming a couple of times in pain late in the first half while being worked on, Lopez returned to play six second half minutes.
• Other statistics of note … After combining for 29 points and 25 rebounds on Wednesday night, Lopez and sophomore Quintrell Thomas combined for 10 points and nine boards in just 26 minutes … BYU was 24-of-25 from the free throw line, while UNLV was 22-of-26 … UNLV out-rebounded BYU 43-34, only allowing the Cougars eight offensive caroms … Marshall and Stanback both posted double-doubles. On top of the 16 points, Marshall had 12 rebounds, four assists and four steals, while Stanback had 14 points and 10 boards … UNLV senior guard Derrick Jasper struggled again off of the bench. He played 18 minutes, and his only two recorded stats were one rebound and one foul. He had no shot attempts.