Tue Jan 11 11:20pm EST
The most unassailable evidence of Jimmer Fredette's greatness this season came with just under six minutes left in Tuesday night's victory at Utah when the BYU star exited the game for what appeared to be the final time.
Among those at the Huntsman Center who stood and applauded the senior guard were a smattering of red-clad Utes fans.
Fredette deserved an ovation from friend and foe alike Tuesday after a performance worthy of a bonafide national player of the year candidate. He scored a season-high 47 points on efficient 16-of-28 shooting, leading the 10th-ranked Cougars to a 104-79 demolition of their in-state rivals.
If Kemba Walker emerged as an early front-runner for national player of the year with his memorable Maui Invitational performance, then Fredette has made up much of that gap with his scoring binge the past month. The BYU star now leads the nation in scoring at 26.1 points per game after eclipsing the 25-point mark for the seventh time in his past nine games.
The only drawback to Fredette's brilliance is that not enough of the country had the opportunity to see it. Since BYU-Utah aired on The Mtn and that network is unavailable on many cable systems across the nation, a majority of college basketball fans will have to settle for seeing a few snippets of Fredette's explosion on Tuesday's late-night edition of "SportsCenter."
Fredette dished out six assists and showcased a smooth mid-range game and the ability to get to the rim. Of course, he also struck for 6 of 9 from behind the arc, including a pull-up 40-footer to beat the halftime buzzer and give himself 32 points at the half.
Believe it or not, Fredette's 47-point effort is actually two shy of the career high and school record he set last season against Arizona. BYU coach Dave Rose gave him a final chance to get to 50 by reinserting him with 4:15 remaining, but Fredette did not attempt another shot, scoring his 46th and 47th points on a pair of free throws.
It will be difficult for Fredette to eclipse 50 this season the way opposing defenses are keying on him. The way he's shooting, however, it's also probably not wise to bet against him.