The week couldn’t get much worse for BYU, which in a span of 24 hours went from learning that Brandon Davies had been kicked off the team to getting embarrassed on its home floor.
A visit from Wyoming might be just what it needs to bounce back.
The third-ranked Cougars try to put their distractions - and a surprising loss - behind them Saturday afternoon as they try to wrap up the Mountain West’s top seed in Jimmer Fredette’s final home game.
Last Saturday, BYU (27-3, 13-2) caught fire from beyond the arc, hitting 14 of 24 3-pointers in an 80-67 win over then-No. 6 San Diego State. The season sweep of the Aztecs gave the Cougars a one-game lead in the conference standings and also increased their chances of landing a No. 1 seed for the NCAA tournament.
The program suffered a severe blow Tuesday, though, when it learned Davies - the team’s top rebounder and third-leading scorer - was suspended for the remainder of the season for violating the university’s honor code.
BYU played like a team dealing with a distraction Wednesday against New Mexico. With a chance to avenge its lone conference loss, coach Dave Rose’s team shot 33.9 percent and was outrebounded 45-29 in an 82-64 loss to the Lobos.
Rose insists the Cougars will be able to regroup.
“This team has found ways to win games all year and I have all the confidence in the world we’ll continue to do that,” he said. “We’ll get better. We’ll find ways to deal with the loss of a player that we’ve relied on. We found ways to deal with the loss of Chris Collinsworth when he got knee surgery. We’ll find ways to get around this.”
Getting some points from someone besides Jimmer Fredette would be a good start. The nation’s leading scorer had 33 Wednesday, but the rest of the Cougars shot 10 of 33. Charles Abouo, who averaged 12.2 points in his previous five games while shooting 56.8 percent, went 1 for 6 against the Lobos and scored eight points.
“We found a lineup that we were really comfortable playing, a lineup we started the (previous) 20 games,” Rose said. “Now we need to find the next comfortable lineup.”
BYU will still clinch at least a share of the Mountain West title - and guarantee itself the top seed in the conference tournament - with a win.
That shouldn’t be too much of a challenge considering Wyoming (10-19, 3-12) has lost 12 straight to the Cougars and hasn’t won a road game the past two seasons. The Cowboys’ road skid hit 21 with a 90-77 loss to UNLV last Saturday.
They were even less competitive Tuesday against a San Diego State team eager to bounce back from its disappointment against BYU. The Aztecs shot 52.5 percent and outrebounded Wyoming 43-26 in cruising to an 85-58 win.
“It was the first time in the last few games that we didn’t match our opponent’s intensity,” said Cowboys interim coach Fred Langley, who took over for the fired Heath Schroyer on Feb. 7. “We also have to take responsibility as coaches for not having our guys ready to play.”
Fredette has averaged 20.4 points in his five career starts versus Wyoming. He had 26 in a 69-62 road win Feb. 2, while Davies chipped in 20 points.