LAS VEGAS — Jimmermania is alive and well inside the BYU locker room. Teammates gushed about his record-setting performance in Friday's 87-76 win over New Mexico in the Mountain West Conference tournament semifinals.
Jimmer Fredette's career-high 52 points were the most in league history. So, too, was the 33 he had in the first half. Various other marks fell on a night when Fredette surpassed Danny Ainge as BYU's all-time scoring leader.
"He was in the zone as soon as he started the game. He started making all those shots," said forward Noah Hartsock. "We were just like, 'Let him go for it, let him work it.' And he played a great game (Friday) for us."
Fredette was 14-of-20 from the field and 5-of-8 from 3-point range in the first half. By game's end, the senior wound up making 22 of the 37 shots he attempted.
"He's a really good player. Jimmer can score in various ways and especially when he's feeling it like he did (Friday)," said backcourt mate Jackson Emery. "He's extremely dangerous because you don't know where he's going to shoot and what he's going to do. He's just a terrific player to play with."
Fredette's performance lifted the Cougars to today's MWC championship game and allowed them to avenge two earlier losses to New Mexico.
"I don't think there's anybody in the gym who could stop him," said forward Charles Abouo. "He's a special talent and it's great getting to play with him."
After a subpar showing in the quarterfinal win over TCU, teammates were confident Fredette would bounce back. He had 24 points in BYU's 64-58 win over the Horned Frogs, connecting on just 7-of-21 from the field.
"I knew he was going to come out with more intensity," Hartsock said. "When he started making those shots, we just tried to keep finding him and he just kept knocking them down. So we just kept giving it to him and he played lights-out (Friday)."
Fredette, Hartsock continued, gets the crowd involved and it really gives the Cougars a lift — especially when they need a big emotional boost.
"I know Jimmer, he's not going to have very many nights when he's not shooting the ball well," Emery said. "That's why he's more dangerous the next night. I think he takes a lot of pride in shooting."
Emery and Hartsock rank Fredette's showing against New Mexico right up there with stellar performances against Arizona (49 points) and Florida (37 points) as a junior, as well as the Utah game earlier this season when he scored 47 points.
What made Friday's game even more special, Emery noted, was that he did it with just one free throw.
"That means he played through the rough play and just hit shots," he said. "That's what is really impressive."