(18) B-Y-U (8-0) vs. Vermont (6-1)
Wednesday, December 8th, 7:00 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Gregg Xenakes, Associate College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: Glens Falls Civic Center (4,806) -- Glens Falls, New York. Television: CBSCSN. Home Record: BYU 4-0, Vermont 4-0. Away Record: BYU 1-0, Vermont 2-1. Neutral Record: BYU 3-0, Vermont 0-0. Conference Record: BYU 0-0, Vermont 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: Off to their best start since the 1956-57 campaign, the Vermont Catamounts get their biggest test of the young season tonight as they tangle with 18th-ranked BYU in non-conference play at the Glens Falls Civic Center in New York in what is being dubbed the Hometown Classic.
The Catamounts have built a substantial resume for 2010-11 with six wins in seven opportunities, the lone setback coming against UConn on the road back in the middle of November, a game in which Vermont actually held a lead in the second half. On Saturday the team posted an 82-78 victory over the Yale Bulldogs for their fifth straight win overall. Back in 1956-57 the team opened with nine wins in 10 chances, which is the standard the Catamounts are chasing this year.
As for the BYU Cougars, one of the favorites to take the Mountain West Conference title this season, they've captured eight wins in as many opportunities, although some have been rather hard to come by. Then again, Saturday's test against the Hawaii Warriors wasn't much of a battle at all as the Cougars delivered a 78-57 triumph in Salt Lake City.
This meeting is the first ever between these two schools on the hardwood. Dating back to 1973 the Catamounts have not had much luck against teams ranked in the top-25, winning just two of those 20 opportunities.
Ahead by 16 points at the break, thanks to 52.9 percent shooting from the field, the Cougars were able to cruise to the win over Hawaii on Saturday, which is why some of the stats for the leading performers were somewhat under-whelming as they gave way to the reserves. Jimmer Fredette accounted for a game-high 16 points, Stephen Rogers and Logan Magnusson 13 and 11, respectively, off the bench as the group made good on an even 50 percent from the floor and at the same time held the Warriors to just 30.5 percent and a meager 1-of-13 beyond the arc. Fredette, a preseason All-American candidate, is pouring in 22.3 ppg even though he is still drawing that much more attention from defenders. Jackson Emery is credited with another 12.0 ppg and combined with Fredette the dup have hit on 40 of the team's 60 three-point baskets over the first eight games of the season. While it's true the Cougars are generating a hefty 82.8 ppg, praise must also be given to a defense that has held foes to just 37.9 percent shooting from the field, 26.9 percent out on the perimeter and 61.8 ppg overall.
Even though the Catamounts knocked down 55.6 percent of their field goal attempts on Saturday versus Yale, the squad still had to hold on for the four- point win versus the Bulldogs. Part of the problem was that Vermont shot just 18-of-27 at the free-throw line, leaving the door open for the visitors to stage a solid comeback bid. Nevertheless, Evan Fjeld led the way with a double-double consisting of 18 points and 10 rebounds, followed by Joey Accaoui off the bench with 17 points in 22 minutes. Brendan Bald and Matt Glass chipped in 14 points apiece and Brian Voelkel 10 rebounds and eight assists in the triumph. Fjeld has been a solid scorer in the paint so far this season for the Catamounts, posting a team-best 20.9 ppg to go along with his 6.7 rpg. Not only is he doing the job at the offensive end of the floor, Fjeld is also tops on the unit with 20 blocked shots through seven games as well. Accaoui (13.3 ppg) is providing a huge lift off the bench, while Voelkel (4.4 ppg) has sacrificed his own offense to lead the program in both rebounding (9.7 rpg) and assists (37) which is a rare feat these days.
Against weaker competition the Catamounts might be thriving, but you can be sure they won't have the same kind of luck against Fredette and the Cougars tonight.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: BYU 86, Vermont 68
12/08 10:41:44 ET