PROVO — Days after BYU's epic victory at San Diego State, and one day after the No. 3 Cougars achieved their highest ranking in 23 years, school officials released a stunning announcement Tuesday night that starting center Brandon Davies has been suspended for the rest of the season due to an unspecified Honor Code violation.
While the news put a serious damper on the off-the-charts excitement surrounding the Cougar basketball program, the shockwaves extended well beyond Provo.
Since Saturday, numerous national media and prognosticators have projected 27-2 BYU as a No. 1 seed in the upcoming NCAA Tournament, and a legitimate contender to reach the Final Four.
BYU spokeswoman Carri Jenkins told the Deseret News that the university became aware of the matter involving Davies on Monday. Some decisions regarding Davies' future on the basketball team, and at the university, are yet to be determined, she said.
As of now, Davies is still a student at BYU.
The loss of Davies significantly alters the look of the Cougars.
A 6-foot-9 sophomore, Davies started 26 of 29 games for BYU and was averaging 11.1 points (third-best on the team), and 6.2 rebounds in 24.9 minutes per game. He provided the Cougars with a reliable scoring threat inside, allowing the perimeter to be opened up for senior guards Jimmer Fredette and Jackson Emery.
Coach Dave Rose was not available for comment on this unexpected development in his program.
BYU's coaching staff doesn't have much time to adjust, as the Cougars host New Mexico Wednesday (8 p.m., The Mtn.).
It's possible that Noah Hartsock could be moved into Davies' No. 5 position.. As for the No. 4 spot, BYU could turn to Charles Abouo, Kyle Collinsworth, Logan Magnusson or Stephen Rogers. Backup center James Anderson is recovering from an eye injury sustained against San Diego State.
None of those players, however, possess the particular skill set, including the ability to score in the low post, that Davies gave BYU.
Davies did not participate in practice on Monday. Rose told reporters that Davies was receiving treatment for a quadriceps injury that he sustained against San Diego State.
The Cougars suffered a blow last month when 6-9 forward Chris Collinsworth was sidelined after season-ending knee surgery.
In light of Davies' suspension, BYU now must deal with more adversity as it prepares for what has been shaping up as its most promising postseason in years.
ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi, who has projected BYU as a No. 1 seed, posted on his Twitter account Tuesday night that the NCAA Selection Committee "would not drop BYU (in the seedings) because of the Davies suspension unless until the Cougars play worse without him. It is not assumed."
BYU wraps up the regular season this week, then is set to play in the Mountain West Conference Tournament next week. The NCAA Tournament tips off the following week.