Jimmer Fredette spent Wednesday evening in his New York hometown, still three days away from a rematch with the Arizona Wildcats, yet UA coach Sean Miller probably could have sworn he was enjoying himself again at McKale Center.
In Arizona's mostly lackluster 73-62 win over Cal State-Fullerton on Wednesday, the BYU guard who dropped 49 points on the Wildcats last season practically showed up disguised as the Titans' Devon Peltier, who hit his first four three-point attempts en route to 19 points.
And there was Fredette again, pretending to be Orane Chin, the Fullerton forward who bullied his way to 14 points on 6-for-9 shooting. And there was even a bit of Fredette in resourceful point guard Perry Webster, who had five points, five rebounds, six assists and just two turnovers.
At least that's the way Miller felt afterward.
"Jimmer Fredette is a great, great player," Miller said. "I respect him tremendously. Having said that, last year he took a lot of little boys to school. He could have had 60 on us. Believe me, that was an easy 49.
"Tonight when I watched our team play we kind of had the same thing going on."
Scoreless for the first 3:40 of the game, the Titans quickly lulled the Wildcats into the kind of lackadaisical play Arizona (8-1) had avoided all season. Then they shot 53.8 percent from three-point range, 48 percent overall and had just six turnovers in the second half.
The Wildcats had blown out their previous five homecourt opponents by an average of 30.6 points and were favored by 26 on Wednesday but had nine turnovers and made just 3 of 14 three-point attempts by halftime.
As a result, Arizona led only 34-24 at halftime and by as few as five points during the middle of the second half before Derrick Williams - who else? - bailed the Wildcats out of their stupor with 16 points after halftime.
Williams finished with a game-high 22 points and 10 rebounds, his third double-double of the season, rebounding from an uncharacteristic first half in which he had six points on 1-for-3 shooting and two turnovers.
"In the first half, I didn't come to play," Williams said. "So in the second half, I just wanted to make a statement, just come out and lead my team."
Williams said the Wildcats "can't come out and play like that if we want to be a Top 25 team" and that they will certainly face trouble if they do so Saturday in Salt Lake City, where Fredette and the Cougars will host a semi-neutral rematch at the EnergySolutions Arena.
UA guard MoMo Jones, who had four turnovers and zero assists, said the entire team came out "real lackadaisical."
But if one reason was that the Wildcats looked past the Titans (3-6) toward Fredette, who had 26 points on Wednesday as BYU beat up Vermont 86-58 at Glens Falls, N.Y., Miller didn't want to hear about it.
"Our guys aren't good enough players, our team's not talented enough, we haven't done anything to look beyond one game on our schedule," Miller said. "Every game we play is a huge game because every team that plays us can beat us. When we don't play together and give great effort you can see actually who we are. Our team is about depth and togetherness and effort. We have to have that in place. That doesn't mean we're going to win 30 games, but that's our best chance of winning. … I don't want to take away anything from Cal State-Fullerton, but on my end, we didn't play up to the standards that we hold ourselves to."
Until Wednesday, the Wildcats had remained fairly consistent and focused on each of their first eight games on what turned out to be a mostly unchallenging early schedule. The Wildcats won each of their seven games by at least 23 points and lost only to then-sixth-ranked Kansas by eight points in Las Vegas.
Then, finally, the crash happened.
"The season grows," Miller said. "It picks on the weak-minded, the guys who just can't do it every game, every day. You get worn down. It's those teams that are older, veteran-tested, who have been in the winner's circle, they can be there from (games) 1 to 30."
The good news for UA, of course, is that the Wildcats won.
A year ago, Miller said, the story would have been completely different. He wouldn't have had Kevin Parrom, who missed the first 10 games last season, come in and fill the box score like he did (12 points, four rebounds, four assists, two steals, one block).
And he wouldn't have forward Jesse Perry and guard Jordin Mayes, his two contributing 2010 recruits, who each chipped in typical efforts - Perry was scoreless but had six rebounds, and Mayes had three assists to no turnovers.
Having those extra capable bodies allowed Miller to cut down on minutes played by Brendon Lavender, who had six minutes while shooting 0 for 3 from three-point range, and Jamelle Horne, who shot 2 of 6 from three-point range and received just 21 minutes.
"A year ago, we would have lost this game," Miller said. "We didn't have the ability to take certain people out of the game. You bring someone like Jesse Perry or Kevin Parrom in and come back. We didn't necessarily wear Cal State-Fullerton down, but, especially during those four minutes (from eight left to four left in the second half), we put it together, and we had a number of subs in the game."
• Who: Arizona vs. BYU at Salt Lake City
• When: 4 p.m. Saturday
• TV: BYU TV (Cox 114, Comcast 289, DirecTV 374, Dish 9397)
• Radio: 1290-AM, 107.5-FM