Provo • It started to flicker more than a year ago with a 49-point explosion at national power Arizona, grew hotter at last year’s NCAA Tournament after Jimmer Fredette scored 37 against Florida and then re-ignited last week when he dropped 39 on UNLV at the Thomas & Mack Center.
But "Jimmermania" took hold of the country and the college basketball world for real on Tuesday night, as BYU’s senior guard dump-trucked rival Utah with 47 dazzling points, including a did-he-just-do-that? halfcourt shot that beat the halftime buzzer, his 30th, 31st and 32nd points of the half.
Thanks to an array of highlight reel shots, and national cable sports giant ESPN jumping on the bandwagon in a big way — Fredette’s heroics led SportsCenter — the nation was officially introduced to what Utahns and BYU fans have known for years: This kid is pretty good.
And he’s blowing up nationally.
BYU’s basketball sports information people were inundated with telephone calls from around the country moments after the performance that BYU coach Dave Rose said “will be remembered by people in the state of Utah for a long, long time,” and the calls continued all day Wednesday.
Everybody wants a piece of Jimmer, said BYU spokesperson Kyle Chilton.
And why not?
The kid with the unique first name that screams Americana (don’t think for a minute that doesn’t play into this phenomenon), affable on-camera presence and variety of shots that had deadspin.com calling him a folk hero and comparing his shot-making ability to that of Pete Maravich and Stephen Curry, is so hot that his name was trending on Twitter on Tuesday night.
Fredette became the fourth BYU player ever to surpass the 2,000-point mark, and with 2,001 in his career now trails only Devin Durrant, Michael Smith and the leader, Ainge.
Having done a telephone interview after the game on SportsCenter Tuesday night with ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt in which he came across as humble, humorous and a bit self-deprecating about an ill-fated attempt to dunk the ball in the second half, Fredette rose early to go on ESPN’s First Take and also the Dan Patrick Show (albeit with a guest host).
“I’ve dunked a couple times this year, so let’s get that straight, first off,” he said with a laugh.
Across the country, it was suggested that Jimmer name his first son Jimmest. You know — Jim, Jimmer and Jimmest. Fredette’s father, Al, was happy he had flown in from New York for the Utah game.
The Cougars have a bye this weekend and don’t play again until Tuesday, at home against TCU.