I was mezmerized by Wednesday night's college basketball showdown between No. 4 San Diego State and No. 9 BYU, mainly because of the stunning shooting performance of BYU senior guard Jimmer Fredette. I could have sworn I was watching the second coming of "Pistol Pete'' Maravich.
Fredette poured in 43 points in a 71-58 victory over previously unbeaten SDSU, including 34 of BYU's first 50 points. And the officials missed a blatant goaltending call on a Fredette shot with 5:47 to go.
Leading the nation in scoring at 27.4 points per game, the 6-foot-2 guard is much more than the 3-point bomber I expected. Although he's hitting 42.1 percent beyond the arc, he looked capable of scoring from anywhere the court and going for 40 every night. Against SDSU, his longest shot was 3 or 4 feet beyond the 3-point line. He also hit a one-legged off-balance jumper in the second half.
Fredette scored BYU's final 15 points before halftime and made his first five shots in the second half. His teammates got more involved after SDSU coach Steve Fisher put a bigger body on Fredette.
You might have thought there was a Cavs fan in the sellout crowd with one holding a sign that proclaimed Fredette "The Real King James." Fredette's given name is James, but he told ESPN his mother called him Jimmer because she had several Jims in her family.
The nearly 5,000-foot altitude could also have been a factor as Fredette's scoring tailed off in second half. It definitely was for San Diego State, which ran out of gas at the end.
Still, Fredette recorded the 15th 30-point game of his career and he didn't start a game as a freshman. The CBS broadcast crew said Fredette wasn't highly recruited, with the decision of the Glens Falls, N.Y. product coming down to BYU and Siena. His mother a Catholic and his father a converted Mormon, Fredette told ESPN he was baptized as a Mormon when he was 10.
Even more amazing was the fact that only two of Fredette's 30-point plus efforts have come at home. Last year he scored a career-high 49 at Arizona.
While drafting the brown bomber would seem attractive to the woeful Cleveland Cavaliers, Fredette won't likely be an option unless they buy or trade for another first-round selection. They are expected to pick no lower than fourth and an Internet post by The Sporting News said NBA executives at Wednesday's game weren't sold on Fredette as a lottery pick. While Fredette has probably shot his way into the first round, he may go no higher than 15-20 in the June draft because of a lack of athleticism, according to Sporting News.
That opinion isn't shared by NBA players, some of whom spent time with him last summer at the USA men's basketball camp. Oklahoma City star Kevin Durant tweeted late Wednesday night: "Jimmer Fredette is the best scorer in the world!!" and that was after Durant poured in 47 points against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Washington Wizards guard John Wall tweeted: "Jimmer Fredette is cold! Respect."
Asked about Durant's praise during a Thursday afternoon interview on ESPN, Fredette said, ''Kevin Durant is the best scorer in the world in my opinion, and in most people's opinion. I appreciate the love, but I think he's still got me.''
According to the Deseret News, Ohio State center Jared Sullinger chipped in on Twitter about Fredette "going off right now. Pure scorer."
One fan on Twitter Thursday morning said Fredette ''is in range when he gets out of bed in the morning . Best pure scorer in College since Larry "Legend" Bird.''
Fredette's performance against San Diego State's NBA-caliber athletes will help his draft stock. As his popularity increases, it will make for an interesting player of the year race between Sullinger, Fredette and UConn's Kemba Walker.
Other thoughts from the game:
BYU's victory left No. 1 Ohio State as the nation's last unbeaten team. This could be the most exciting race for the NCAA title in years. The game made me question why BYU and San Diego State (both 20-1) weren't ranked higher. BYU has the No. 1 RPI in the country in the last ratings and San Diego State is No. 4. BYU is also much quicker on defense than I expected. Hope to see the already-soldout rematch of the two Feb. 26 in San Diego.
What a contrast in coaching styles. Fisher, the former Michigan coach, hardly ever sat down or stopped yelling. BYU's Dave Rose was a picture of calm, seated most of the game. Guess you can do that when Fredette is having a 40-point night.
Found it surprising that the last loss suffered by Ohio State and previously by SDSU came against Tennessee in last year's NCAA tournament.
Wish CBS-College had shown during the game a clip of Fredette's older brother T.J. warming up the crowd with two rap songs 90 minutes before tipoff. (Perhaps they did at halftime, when I switched away.) According to the Associated Press, T.J. performed "Amazing," first sung publicly during last year's NCAA tournament, and the "Sequel to Amazing," a tribute to Jimmer and his decision to return for his senior season. When Jimmer was young, according to AP, T.J. had him dribble left-handed, sometimes wearing a work glove, and in the darkened hallways of a church.
Wonder how many subscriptions for the enhanced sports package Time-Warner sold Wednesday. I had never heard of CBS College until then, but forked over the $5 extra per month to see the game. When I asked the customer service rep how quickly it would be activated because there was a game I wanted to watch, he responded, "BYU-San Diego State? You're not the only one.''