The Cougars (30-3) will try to win their first conference tournament title in 10 years Saturday against the winner of the late UNLV-San Diego State semifinal, having swept both those teams in the regular season. More importantly, the win may have answered questions about BYU's viability as a highly seeded team when the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee examines its case without suspended sophomore center Brandon Davies.
"It proved we're a good team," coach Dave Rose said.
And one with a sensational player, a player who had the pro-BYU crowd chanting "You Got Jimmered" at the end of the game as Rose took Fredette out with 16 seconds remaining to a deafening roar of approval from the appreciative crowd.
The win snapped a four-game losing skid for the Cougars against New Mexico, which pounded BYU at the Marriott Center 82-64 last week.
"It was very satisfying to win that one. ... We knew we could play better than what we did in Provo," Fredette said.
The Cougars caught a break when New Mexico's best player, point guard Dairese Gary, went down early in the second half with a knee injury. He did not return.
"We missed him a lot, obviously," said Drew Gordon, who led the Lobos (21-12) with 17 points and 15 rebounds.
Still, the Cougars led by just 62-61 when UNM's Kendall Williams hit a 3-pointer with just over eight minutes remaining. Fredette answered that with a three and then a two-pointer. Less than two minutes after Williams' bomb, the Cougars had a 74-65 lead and were running away with it.
New Mexico coach Steve Alford said the team really missed Gary in the final four minutes. "He's been our bus. He's been our little bus. He's had a lot to do with our 97 wins," Alford said.
BYU's Rose said there was "no question" that Gary's absence impacted the game.
But the Cougars will take it, after having shot 50 percent from the field. The game featured 14 lead changes and eight ties, and a first half that was as well-played and entertaining as could be imagined.
"It was a crazy atmosphere, but it kept us energized," BYU guard Kyle Collinsworth said.
Added Fredette: "It was a great team effort and it was something I will never forget."
Jackson Emery struggled again with his shot, going 3 of 11 from the field, but made up for it with five steals, including several that led directly to fast-break points. He also made six straight free throws to seal the win in the final 32 seconds, finishing with 14 points.
As much as Fredette thrilled the crowd with as brilliant an offensive display as he has seen, Rose said it was still a "great team win."
R IN SHORT • Jimmer Fredette breaks multiple scoring records with 52 points as No. 8 BYU exacts some revenge on New Mexico in an MWC tournament semifinal.
KEY STAT • Fredette attempts just one free throw, getting 51 of his points on 22-of-37 shooting.
P No. 8 BYU vs.San Diego State, 5 p.m.
TV • Versus