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Provo • Bodies flew everywhere, referees' whistles blew incessantly and Jimmer Fredette surpassed the 30-point scoring barrier for the 17th time in his brilliant college basketball career.
Did you expect anything less in the final regular-season Mountain West Conference game between No. 7 BYU and longtime league foe Colorado State?
Taking advantage of a sizable advantage at the free-throw line, the Cougars inched away with an 84-76 win in front of another sellout crowd at the Marriott Center (22,700), a hard-as-it-looks victory that sets up almost perfectly Saturday's epic encounter at No. 4 San Diego State.
"The game went exactly how we thought it would play out as far as how physical the game was and how competitive it was," said BYU coach Dave Rose.
In a contest that featured 53 fouls but saw no player disqualified, the Cougars (26-2, 12-1) won it at the charity stripe by making 35 of 43 attempts.
Playing for their NCAA Tournament lives, the Rams (18-9, 8-5) were 17 of 26 from the line.
"It was really physical. Both teams made a lot of free throws," acknowledged Fredette.
And he should know, overcoming his second-straight subpar shooting performance from the field (9 of 26) with a 14 of 16 outing from 15 feet away to finish with a game-high 34 points.
"We held Jimmer to nine makes on 26 shots and forced seven turnovers, so I would say that is a pretty nice job," said CSU coach Tim Miles.
For the Cougars, it was the kind of grind-it-out, rough-and-tumble game they really didn't want, seeing as a well rested SDSU team awaits Saturday, having had a midweek bye.
But Rose stayed away from that kind of acknowledgement in his postgame address, saying they knew last summer when the schedule came out that the Colorado State-San Diego State-New Mexico stretch would test his team's mettle not once, but twice.
"So we will approach it like we did last time and hopefully we will be a little bit better this time," he said.
Wednesday, the Cougars got it done defensively when they had to, forcing CSU into seven turnovers on its last 20 possessions. The catalyst was Jackson Emery, who made three of his four steals in that stretch to further strengthen his bid to win conference defensive player of the year honors. He also had 11 points as BYU's starters scored 78 of its 84 points.
"Emery made three great defensive plays there at the end to turn the game," Miles said.
The Cougars led by 14 points in the first half and 13 in the second, but couldn't put the Rams away similar to what happened in Fort Collins when they won 95-86. The Rams were within four, 60-56, before a 9-0 BYU run helped the Cougars down CSU for the 10th straight time.
Emery provided the big spark, but the Cougar who really came up big was sophomore Brandon Davies. He scored 14 points including 12 of 16 from the free-throw line and grabbed a career-high 15 rebounds.
"I am really pleased with how he competed," Rose said.
Andy Ogide led CSU with 25 points and hurt the Cougars inside with eight rebounds, while Adam Nigon made four big 3-pointers to keep the Rams close in the second half.
"I am excited to hopefully get these guys in Vegas [at the MWC tournament] if we meet up with them," Nigon said. "… We showed we can play with them, and we have some sets that can stop them. … I am excited. If we could have handled the ball there down the stretch, who knows what could happen."
R IN SHORT • In a physical, foul-filled scrap, No. 7 BYU holds off Colorado State behind 34 points by Jimmer Fredette.
Key Moment • A 9-0 run midway through the second half gives BYU some breathing room.
Key Stat • BYU outscores CSU 35-17 at the free-throw line.
O Brandon Davies' clutch free-throwing shooting was pivotal in BYU's gritty win.