Brigham Young's Jimmer Fredette celebrates after scoring against Texas A&M during the first half of their first round NCAA men's basketball tournament game in Anaheim, California, March 20, 2008. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES)
PROVO, Utah -- Jimmer Fredette scored 43 points and ninth-ranked BYU beat No. 4 San Diego State 71-58 before a frenzied crowd Wednesday night, handing the Aztecs their first defeat of the season.
The loss by SDSU (20-1, 5-1 Mountain West Conference) leaves Ohio State as the only unbeaten team in the nation.
BYU (20-1, 6-0) has won 10 straight and six in a row at home against San Diego State.
The biggest regular-season basketball game in Mountain West Conference history didn't disappoint. The first matchup of top-10 teams in the conference was tight from the start, with 15 lead changes and seven ties.
The Cougars trailed 31-30 at halftime thanks to a late 3-pointer by San Diego State's Kawhi Leonard.
But BYU, now alone atop the Mountain West, turned it on in the second half. With the score tied at 44, the Cougars went on a 16-8 run to take a 60-52 lead with 4:12 to go.
Noah Hartsock capped the run with a layup. Fredette also hit a pair of 3-pointers, reserve James Anderson had several key blocks and BYU's career steals leader, Jackson Emery, came up with a key theft and jam.
Leonard's jumper pulled San Diego State to 60-54 with 3:45 remaining.
Fredette, a leading contender for national player of the year, took over. He made seven straight free throws to give BYU a 67-54 lead.
Leonard finished with 22 points to lead the Aztecs.
The game was big enough that at least two dozen NBA scouts descended on Provo.
It was so big students lined up outside in freezing temperatures on Monday for the best seats in the arena, which even with 22,700 seats was a sellout more than a week ago.
Fans came with blue hair, white hair, painted faces and signs that shouted everything from "Fredette About It" to "You Got Jimmered" and "Kemba Who?" in reference to another other top candidate for player of the year, Connecticut guard Kemba Walker.
A sign also proclaimed Fredette "The Real King James" -- a reference to NBA star LeBron James.
He didn't disappoint, though San Diego State made him work for every point.
Fredette led all scorers in the first half with 20 points on 8-of-12 shooting, including 3 of 3 from beyond the arc. He scored BYU's final 15 points of the first half after Hartsock tied it at 15 with a jumper at the 10:14 mark.
There also were more blocks (five) than fouls (three) in the first 14 minutes as the officials let the two teams go at it.
The Aztecs made scoring tough for Fredette early, so Brandon Davies carried the load for BYU. He had eight of the Cougars' first 13 points in 10 minutes.