This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
The big one is finally here. In about 10 hours, No. 4 San Diego State and No. 9 BYU will get it on in the Marriott Center in what's being called the most important game in the 40-year-old arena's history. Here's my game advance, focusing of course on the magnitude of the game that will draw a sellout crowd of more than 22,700. Of course, there are articles on the game and BYU's Jimmer Fredette all over the internet these days. BYU sports information officials have links to most of them here. There's even a story about whether or not Fredette likes fry sauce, that Utah original. Go here for that. The Wall Street Journal even called BYU the "Duke of the West" in this piece. And USA Today weighs in with a story about Fredette and a story about his trusty sidekick, Jackson Emery.- I hope to be able to post more video later today from group interviews with BYU coaches and players earlier this week. Until then, here are a few more comments regarding the big game from BYU coach Dave Rose: On what has made SDSU so successful this year: "They won 25 games last year, and they have most of their players back. With that same starting group, they have won 45 games, halfway through the year now. That helps them. They have a couple of additions to the team James Rahon I think has really helped them from the perimeter. But for the most part it is a group right now that is really playing with a purpose, they play together, and they are really figuring out ways to win games." On how he is managing all the attention and hype: "I think that managing everything around the game, this week I think we have to depend on our experienced guys. Jimmer and Jackson have been through quite a few big games in their career. But the game itself will be very similar to every game we play. And this game will have a lot of fans, and there will be a lot of energy in the building. But this team has been in a lot of those situations this year, so it is one game, it is a really important game. But no matter the outcome, we got another game on Saturday, too. They keep coming." On whether there is more pressure on BYU or SDSU: "I think when you play at home, and you are trying to do win a league championship, your home games are really important. You gotta win your home games. But this is one of those games where you really don't have to feel pressure, I don't think, because you can make this game up. You can go down there and beat them if they get you here, and that will be tough for other people to do that. But you want to win your home games." On what makes SDSU better this year: "I think they play together better. I think they are better defensively. I think their shot selection is a lot better. They just are playing to win. Not that they weren't playing to win last year, but their focus is really good." On the impact of SDSU's D.J. Gay: "D.J. is making big plays for them. And he has turned into a real leader from the perimeter, which is something that every coach wants. You want a guy who has the ball in his hands all the time to kind of be a guy who can make plays make plays for himself, make plays for his teammates. With D.J's experience, he has played a lot of minutes in this league, and he is feeling really comfortable with this group of guys." On SDSU's Kawhi Leonard: "He's a handful, and not only because he's a great rebounder, he's a great scorer. He's a guy that they really rely on in big possessions to make the play, but he doesn't have to have the ball in his hands to make that play. He's pretty tough. You gotta know where he is at, and be consistent in your approach to try to guard him." On whether SDSU having a bye over the weekend while BYU was playing will have an impact: "Well, if you don't have the bye, you say they have all the rest. But if you have the bye as a coach, then you are worried if they can play at the same level that they can play at before the bye because they were playing really well. I guess my answer would be, yeah, that is a real advantage for them." On whether the approach is different to this game: "I think the hype around the game, the sellout, the students [lining up], the life that Jimmer lives probably it is very similar [to Wake Forest game]. I think there is a lot more national media attention. But to your players, the camera is on and they don't know if it is going to the Intermountain West, or going to China. They just deal with what they deal with. So I would say it is probably similar to the guys."