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Simmer Jimmer: Florida cools off Fredette, BYU

Florida’s Alex Tyus, a St. Louis native, dunks as three BYU defenders look on during the first half of Thursday’s NCAA tournament game in New Orleans. Tyus, who attended Hazelwood Central his first two seasons before transferring to Harmony Community in Cincinnati, had 19 points and 17 rebounds as the Gators eliminated the Cougars.

Florida’s Alex Tyus, a St. Louis native, dunks as three BYU defenders look on during the first half of Thursday’s NCAA tournament game in New Orleans. Tyus, who attended Hazelwood Central his first two seasons before transferring to Harmony Community in Cincinnati, had 19 points and 17 rebounds as the Gators eliminated the Cougars. Photo by The Associated Press.

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — BYU had the best scorer on the court. Florida had the best team.

Alex Tyus scored 19 points and grabbed 17 rebounds as Florida beat BYU 83-74 in overtime Thursday night, chasing Jimmer Fredette and the Cougars out of the NCAA tournament.

While Fredette was the star attraction, scoring 32 points on 11-for-29 shooting in the final game of his college career, Florida countered with balance.

Kenny Boynton added 17 points — while also playing tight defense on Fredette — and Erving Walker and Chandler Parsons both scored 16. Boynton and Parsons each hit 3-pointers in overtime as Florida outscored BYU 15-6.

But it was Tyus’ monster game that put the Gators over the top. The 6-foot-8 senior is the team’s fifth-leading scorer, averaging 8.6 points and 5.7 rebounds coming into the game.

“The thing about Alex is he never really gets fazed with the moment or with what’s going on,” Florida coach Billy Donovan said. “One of the things I’ve tried to pull out of him and get him to see is that when he has a lot of activity and he’s flying around the court, because of his athleticism, he’s got a great ability to impact a game.”

While Tyus was battling under the basket, Boynton was glued to Fredette on defense the entire game.

Fredette made just 3-of-15 from 3-point range and had to work for his points against the physical pressure. By the end of the game, he had a bandage on his chin from a blow in the second half, but the baskets kept coming until he was held scoreless in overtime.

When the outcome became apparent with one minute remaining, BYU coach Dave Rose subbed out Fredette, bringing a standing ovation from the crowd. He averaged nearly 33 points during three NCAA Tournament games and finished the season by scoring at least 30 points in seven out of eight games.

Rose said Fredette’s legacy would be a simple one to define.

“Winning games — that’s his legacy,” Rose said. “He just helped his team find ways to win games.”

Florida (29-7) eliminated BYU (32-5) and reached its first regional final since 2007.

The Gators led for much of the first half, but BYU rallied to tie the game at 36 by halftime.

Florida was almost unstoppable early, making 10 of its first 13 shots and leading by 10 points early. But the Gators cooled dramatically from that point, making just 4-of-13 from the field and 1-of-6 from the free-throw line in the first half.

Fredette, who came into the game as the nation’s leading scorer at 28.8 points per game, missed his first six shots from the field. But the Cougars were able to tread water thanks to Jackson Emery and Stephen Rogers, who combined to hit five 3-pointers in the first half.

Fredette was held scoreless for nearly 14 minutes before hitting a layup with 6:17 remaining in the first half. He made four of his next seven shots to finish the half with 10 points.

The Gators double-teamed Fredette occasionally, but usually guarded him one-on-one with Boynton or Scottie Wilbekin. Fredette was bumped several times while trying to finish layups, and two of his first three shots were blocked.

But fouls were hard to come by, despite Fredette’s occasional glares toward officials and the anger from the vastly pro-BYU crowd at New Orleans Arena.

By midway through the second half, Fredette’s chin was bleeding and he came out of a timeout sporting a white bandage. He also had a sore calf. But it didn’t stop him.

He brought the crowd to its feet with 4:56 remaining, nailing a 3-pointer from 30 feet away to tie the game at 63.

The Gators had the last shot in regulation, but Parsons missed a contested layup with one second remaining.

Compared to the tense final moments of the second half, overtime was anticlimactic. Tyus hit a layup and Boynton made a short jumper to give Florida a 72-68 lead and the Gators cruised from there as Fredette’s 3-pointers wouldn’t fall.

BYU beat Florida 99-92 in double overtime in the first round of last year’s NCAA Tournament. In that game, Fredette had 37 points, but reserve guard Michael Loyd, Jr., added 26 points.

This year, Fredette didn’t have a helper. Nobody else scored in double figures.

UConn 74, San Diego St. 67

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Kemba Walker scored 22 of his 36 points in another dynamic second-half performance, and Connecticut moved to the brink of its fourth trip to the Final Four with a 74-67 victory over San Diego State in the West regional semifinals Thursday night.

Freshman Jeremy Lamb added 24 points and hit a clutch 3-pointer with 1:43 left for the third-seeded Huskies (29-9), who needed five wins in five days to capture the Big East tournament before advancing to an NCAA regional final for the 10th time.

D.J. Gay scored 16 points for the second-seeded Aztecs (34-3), who couldn’t quite catch up to Walker during a scintillating second-half stretch run.

Walker scored 12 consecutive points for UConn in that late duel with Gay, whose 3-pointer cut the Huskies’ lead to 65-64 with 2:53 left. Lamb replied with his 3 before an emphatic last-minute dunk.

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