BYU-New Mexico Preview

Jimmer Fredette was proud of BYU for surviving a Mountain West

Conference quarterfinal game in which it didn’t play its best.

The nation’s leading scorer knows that kind of performance

almost certainly won’t be good enough against New Mexico.

Two of the eighth-ranked Cougars’ three losses – including a

blowout just nine days ago – have come at the hands of the Lobos,

leaving plenty of motivation for Fredette’s top-seeded team in a

rematch in Friday’s semifinal in Las Vegas.

BYU (29-3) lost 86-77 at The Pit in New Mexico on Jan. 29, but

the Cougars’ first conference loss wasn’t regarded as much more

than a slip-up at one of the nation’s most intimidating venues.

An 82-64 defeat in Provo on March 2 – one day after forward and

leading rebounder Brandon Davies was kicked off the team for

violating the school’s honor code – was far more of a cause for

concern. BYU got back on track with a 102-78 win against Wyoming in

its regular-season finale Saturday, but looked shaky again Thursday

without Davies, escaping with a 64-58 victory over last-place

TCU.

“We got the win. That’s really what matters,” said Fredette, who

finished with 24 points on 7 of 21 shooting. “We keep moving

forward. It’s one and done. I’m just proud of my teammates, how we

battled, found a way to win, even though we didn’t play very

well.”

The Cougars certainly haven’t played well against the Lobos

(21-11) over the past two seasons, losing all four meetings while

allowing an average of 81.8 points.

New Mexico has had the upper hand thanks to some outstanding

3-point shooting and control of the boards. The Lobos have shot

42.5 percent from beyond the arc in those four victories while

outrebounding BYU by 8.5 per game.

They won the battle of the boards 45-29 on March 2 thanks to 16

from Drew Gordon, who also had 15 points. That advantage that

didn’t surprise New Mexico coach Steve Alford.

“We wanted to go inside,” he said. “(Davies) has been very,

very big for them all year. He’s very skilled and he’s very

talented … that’s a tremendous loss, so we just wanted to make

sure that we went inside as much as possible.”

The Lobos have let Fredette get his points this season – he

totaled 65 in two games – but his teammates haven’t provided much

help. Fredette has made 42.3 percent of his shots (22 of 52)

against New Mexico, but the rest of the Cougars have connected on

just 35.1 percent (26 of 74).

Like BYU, the Lobos didn’t shoot well in their quarterfinal

contest, going for 39.3 percent against Colorado State. However,

they took advantage of their own misses by pulling down a

season-high 19 offensive boards in a 67-61 victory.

It didn’t take the Lobos long to start thinking about trying to

knock off the Cougars for a third time.

“In the last couple years, they haven’t lost too many games

outside of us,” Alford said. “I don’t know if we know that secret.

It’s just kind of been fortunate it’s happened that way.”

Alford might not have a few of his top perimeter defenders at

full strength, however. Freshman Tony Snell has a sprained ankle

and senior Dairese Gary – who’s averaged 18.3 points during the

last four wins versus BYU – has a sore back and elbow.

“We’ve got to try to get some miracle health in the next 24

hours to get ready for them,” Alford said.