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BYU-UNLV Preview

Mar 12, 2010 - 7:46 AM By ANTHONY GIORNALISTA STATS Senior Writer

Brigham Young (28-4) at UNLV (23-7), 11:30 p.m. EDT

Jimmer Fredette continues to set records during an outstanding season for BYU. Now he's getting closer to adding a Mountain West Conference tournament title to his list of accolades.

Proving to be healthy following a shaky stretch, Fredette leads the 14th-ranked Cougars against UNLV into Friday night's semifinals in Las Vegas.

Largely due to Fredette, second-seeded BYU (29-4) has a strong chance to win its first league tournament title since 2000-01. Fredette set a tournament record with 45 points, helping the Cougars break the school's 60-year-old mark for wins in a season with a 95-85 victory over TCU in the quarterfinals Thursday.

BYU's previous record for wins came in 1950-51. Utah's Lou Kelly held the previous tournament record for points with 35 against New Mexico in 2002.

Fredette also was 23 of 24 from the line, smashing the tournament record for free throws last set by UNLV's Ricky Morgan, who sank 18 against Wyoming in 2005.

"Jimmer is a terrific free throw shooter," Cougars guard Jackson Emery said. "It's almost automatic when you foul him."

The junior guard, though, didn't break his own scoring mark. He set a school record with 49 points in BYU's 99-69 win over Arizona on Dec. 28.

Fredette is averaging 21.4 points and 4.7 assists while shooting 45.4 percent from 3-point range and 89.0 percent from the line.

He emphatically put aside any questions about his health. After struggling with mononucleosis in January, Fredette was slowed by stomach flu in an 83-81 loss to then-No. 10 New Mexico on Feb. 27, scoring a season-low six points.

Fredette followed that with eight points in a 71-51 win over Utah on March 3, and had 18 three days later in a 107-77 victory over the Horned Frogs. He had 21 points, seven rebounds and six assists in BYU's 88-74 loss to UNLV (24-7) on Feb. 6, the teams' last most recent meeting.

Tyler Haws, who starts with Fredette and Emery in the backcourt, hopes to be available to play. He was limited to 15 minutes after getting struck in the face and poked in the eye on one play, resulting in a bloody nose and blurred vision.

"Hopefully he'll be OK and ready to go," BYU coach Dave Rose said. "We'll just have to see how he progresses."

The third-seeded Runnin' Rebels got an unexpectedly strong performance from freshman guard Anthony Marshall in a 73-61 quarterfinal win over Utah on Thursday. Marshall had 13 points and a season-best 12 rebounds.

Marshall is averaging 5.4 points, and has been held to a total of six in two matchups with BYU. Tre'Von Willis, who leads UNLV with 17.5 points per game, is averaging 28.5 points and 6.0 assists against the Cougars this season.

BYU and UNLV have each won a home game in this season's series, but the Rebels have taken nine of the last 13 meetings. This will be their first league tournament matchup since UNLV's 76-61 victory in the 2008 title game.

The Rebels are 3-0 against the Cougars in the MWC tournament. UNLV's 18-6 all-time mark in the tourney tops the league.

The winner of this contest will face No. 8 New Mexico or San Diego State in Saturday's title game.