10:00 PM ET, January 26, 2011
Marriott Center, Provo, UT
PROVO, Utah (AP) -- BYU's Jimmer Fredette is the small-town East Coast guard groomed by an older brother with help from inmates allowed to compete on prison recreational teams.San Diego State's D.J. Gay is the ultimate California kid, raised just outside Los Angeles and taught the game by a father who started taking him to his own city rec games when he was 3.Though their paths wouldn't cross until college, the ninth meeting between two of the nation's best point guards will be key in the biggest regular-season game of their careers."It's going to be crazy," Fredette said of Wednesday night's showdown between fourth-ranked San Diego State and ninth-ranked BYU. "If we play well, our crowd will be into it. We need our crowd to rattle them a little bit. But it's going to be a great one."San Diego State is 20-0. BYU is 19-1. Both are 5-0 in the Mountain West Conference. Bragging rights in the Mountain West are at stake along with perhaps seeds in the NCAA tournament.As different as Fredette and Gay are, both point guards make their teams go."I think it will be a back-and-forth game between the two," said BYU forward Noah Hartsock, who will have his hands full with an SDSU front court that includes Player of the Year candidate Kawhi Leonard, 6-9 Malcolm Thomas and 6-8 Billy White."With San Diego State having a great front line, the (media) might overlook D.J., but he's a tremendous player. He's really one of the great team leaders and great energizers."There's little question this will be a raucous one. The game has been sold out for more than a week, and more than 20 NBA scouts have descended on Provo.Fredette expects the atmosphere to rival the Jan. 3, 2009, game between the Cougars and Wake Forest. BYU owned the nation's longest home-court winning streak at 53 games, but a few key plays were the difference as Wake Forest rallied for a 94-87 victory.This will be the first-ever meeting in Provo between a Top 10 BYU team and Top 10 opponent.While Fredette will do everything he can to keep the pace high, Gay will try to keep it under control.That's just another difference between the two.Fredette of Glens Falls, N.Y. -- nicknamed Hometown USA -- earned preseason All-America honors and made the Midseason Top 30 list for the Wooden Award.San Diego State coach Steve Fisher admits Gay isn't even the best player on his own team -- just the most important one. It's why Fisher named him captain without taking a team vote."(Gay) has been the lynchpin," Fisher said of the smallest player (6-0, 170 pounds) on the Aztecs roster. "He's been our point person. ... He keeps a level of composure that permeates throughout our locker room."Since his days at Poly High in Sun Valley, Calif., Gay has shown he isn't afraid to take the big shots and knows when to elevate his game even if Fisher jokes that "his next dunk will be his first dunk."Gay scored 30 in The Pit against New Mexico on Jan. 15, 20 against Air Force four days later and is shooting nearly 42 percent from beyond the arc.He just hasn't quite lit up the scoreboard like the 6-2, 195-pound Fredette, who scored a school-record 49 against Arizona last season and has topped 40 points in two of the last three games.Even Gay understands the mania Fredette is feeding with all those 3s."I'm gaining respect, but Jimmer's all over ESPN right now," Gay said. "You can't miss him.""It doesn't faze me at all," added Gay, who has played in all 123 games since his arrival at San Diego State. "I congratulate him, but my focus is on doing what I have to do to get this team to win. If I have to score only two points and have eight assists, that's what I'm going to do."Don't be surprised to see Gay play all 40 minutes even if it means another ice bath afterward to help him recover.Last year he played all but one minute in the Mountain West Conference tournament.Gay called that team title his proudest moment as a player."That was the first championship I'd ever won. That was a big deal to me," he said.To get another means going through BYU, which has won nine straight since a Dec. 18 loss at UCLA and all eight at home this season."They basically ran us off the court last year," Gay said of BYU's 82-68 victory in Provo.BYU coach Dave Rose warns this is a different San Diego State team, though the same five starters return."It's a group that is playing with a purpose, playing together, playing to win," Rose said. "Not that they weren't playing to win (before), but the focus is really good."Rose admits there is pressure to win at home.But being one of only two undefeated teams in the country brings its own weight for the Aztecs."I absolutely feel it," Gay said. "With each game that arrives, the pressure hits more and more. But it's a good pressure. We know all eyes are on us."
|Avg Points Allowed||58.9||67.5|
|Conference||Mountain West||West Coast|
With 20-0 San Diego State facing 19-1 BYU, we'll see a very rare battle this late into the season. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, this will be the first time in the last 10 years that a team 20-0 or better faces a one-loss team. In fact, only once in the past 10 years has a team 20-0 or better team faced a team with two losses. That was when 26-0 Memphis lost to 24-2 Tennessee in February 2008.
ESPN Stats & Information