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March Madness 2010: BYU Cougars Outlast Florida Gators on the Backs of Loyd and Fredette

March 18, 2010

Call me crazy, but this was the best type of game that BYU could have had.

I honestly did not think this game would be super close, let alone go to two overtimes, but I think this will actually be better for BYU. They needed a challenge to get the intensity up after losing their last game.

First, let me say that I thought the officiating was pathetic on both sides of the ball. I also can’t stand the coverage of CBS. How are you supposed to enjoy a game when they try and show you three at a time?

The announcers also need to do better research as they repeatedly said BYU played in the MWC championship game, which they didn’t.

Now that I am done complaining let’s get to the game.

The first half was not that different from most BYU games this season. They kept it close, showed moments of brilliance, and other moments of complete confusion.

I don’t know what happened to our big men, but they are almost completely useless these days. Miles in particular confuses me. He has gotten worse since last year. He was never a lottery pick or anything, but he at least contributed more than fouls.

Jimmer Fredette started out slow going 2-7 early. He also wasn’t getting to the line much because Florida was doing a good job of playing tough defense without going too far.

Florida had a chance to run away with it early, but they must have forgotten about Michael Loyd Jr.

He has to be the best surprise of the late part of the season.

Loyd came in and put up ten points including two threes in a two minute span. This brought BYU back into the game and gave them some much needed momentum.

Florida refused to go away continuing to nail some timely threes, and keeping BYU from really running like the like to. They had a chance to go into the half with the lead, but missed at the buzzer to go into the locker room down only two.

What many people have not noticed this year about BYU is that they tend to be a much better second half team.

They are awesome at going into the locker room, making the needed adjustments, and taking it to the house. The Cougars only lost once this season when leading at the half.

For the first ten minutes of the second half is was pretty back and forth, but then BYU exploded for 10 points in about two minutes to go up by thirteen. Just when you thought BYU had found their groove Florida started to nail their shots.

Kenny Boynton came out and put up fourteen points for the Gators to bring them back to within three with 4:39 remaining in the game.

Fredette momentarily slowed the bleeding with two free throws, but the Gators answered with five more points to tie the game at 68 with three minutes left. At that point Boynton nailed his fifth three-pointer to give Florida the lead.

After a couple of back and forth baskets, the Gators had a chance to win the game with the last shot, but Chandler Parsons missed the short jumper to send the game into overtime.

The first overtime period featured only twelve points, and ended on another Florida miss that could have won them the game. The most important event during the first overtime was that Boynton picked up two fouls, giving him four.

The second overtime started in BYU’s favor with a Florida miss from three point range, and a Michael Loyd Jr. make. This was followed up with what I consider the defensive play of the game for BYU.

The Gators tried to feed the ball in low to Erving Walker but freshman Brandon Davies made a great steal poking the ball away to Fredette.

Fredette immediately took it down the court and drove once again to the hole and drew the fifth and final foul on Boynton who was the biggest nail in BYU’s side to this point. He only made one of two, but taking out Boynton proved to make the difference down the stretch.

Florida just couldn’t find someone to score going 5-14 after Boynton fouled out. Jimmer ultimately killed the Gators nailing two threes to push the BYU lead to seven. After that it was just a matter of hitting their free throws for BYU to close it out.

Jimmer Fredette will likely get most of the recognition after this game which is not entirely unwarranted as he had 37 points, but he was not the spark that won this game for BYU.

That would have to have been Michael Loyd Jr.

He came in a couple of times when BYU looked totally flat and ignited the offense. He was aggressive going to the hole, and even when the ball didn’t go in, he was putting Florida on their heels.

Loyd was extremely efficient shooting 70 percent from the field including three 3’s and going 9-10 from the line; this from a guy that is only a 60 percent free throw shooter.

He also had four steals, and scored all of BYU’s points in the first overtime to keep them in it.

All-in-all it was a big, important win, but there was one gaping hole that worries me moving forward.

We have absolutely no inside presence. We got out-rebounded 38-30 including 16-7 on the offensive end. We can’t afford to give teams those second chance shots, especially not K-State in the next round.

What gives me the most hope moving to the next round was the contribution of everyone that played. Fredette and Loyd certainly stole the show, but almost everyone else came in and made a big play or two.

Whether it was a steal, or a rebound, they found a way to help the team win. It is those little contributions that are the difference between a win and a loss in a game like this.

I loved that BYU came fighting back, even when they got down late. They played great defense at the close of the first overtime, and that made it possible to win.

I think my heart has finally slowed down now, and I am thrilled that they finally ended their seven game losing streak in the first round of the tourney. It’s nice to play a Saturday game again!

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