March 2nd, 2011
PROVO, Utah -- Phillip McDonald scored 26 points to lead New Mexico to an 82-64 upset of No. 3 BYU on Wednesday night just two days after the Cougars dismissed leading rebounder Brandon Davies for a violation of the school's honor code.
The loss left the Cougars (27-3, 13-2 Mountain West) reeling just as they had vaulted into the top five nationally and sought a coveted No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.
That looks like a long shot now even though the Cougars still have national player of the year candidate Jimmer Fredette.
Fredette had 33 points but it came on 10-of-26 shooting including 1 of 9 from 3-point range in a game that saw BYU try to find the right combination on the court without Davies.
BYU started 6-foot-10 junior James Anderson in Davies' place but coach Dave Rose quickly went to Plan B and inserted Kyle Collinsworth.
Not much seemed to work as BYU's inside game disappeared. The Cougars made just 8 of 30 shots in the first half and were outrebounded 25-14 as the Lobos (19-11, 7-8) took a 42-26 lead.
The Cougars came in averaging 83 points a game and shooting 38 percent from 3-point range. They finished 5 of 26 on 3-pointers in losing to the Lobos for the second time this season.
A three-point play by Charles Abouo pulled BYU within 48-37 with 14:41 left, and Fredette had a chance to cut it even further. But he missed a 3-pointer and McDonald countered with a 3 to bump New Mexico's lead to 51-37. The Lobos' 11-0 run continued with a 3-pointer from Jamal Fenton.
New Mexico, which beat the Cougars 86-77 on Jan. 29, came ready to play from the opening tip.
The Lobos hit their first four shots and six of their first seven in taking leads of 10-2 and 27-12.
With Davies gone, more of the burden fell to guards Jackson Emery and Fredette. But they were a combined 5 of 17 in the first half.
New Mexico shot 50 percent in the first half and finished 9 of 20 on 3s.
The partisan BYU crowd tried to keep the faith, with signs that read "Believe" and "We Still Got Jimmer."
The Cougars have little time to regain the momentum after losing Davies, who was third on the team in scoring behind Fredette and Emery. School officials on Wednesday confirmed that Davies' offense was not criminal but a violation of the school's honor code, which requires students to be chase and virtuous, honest, not drink alcoholic beverages or coffee and attend church regularly.
They close out the regular season Saturday at home against Wyoming, The Mountain West tournament is next week in Las Vegas.
They can still claim a share of the MWC regular-season title but their long-range goal was to advance deep into the NCAAs.