LAS VEGAS — BYU sophomore Brandon Davies has traveled with the team and will once again be on the bench when the Cougars face TCU in the Mountain West Conference Tournament quarterfinals today.
Davies, who was suspended last week for the remainder of the season for violating the school's honor code, sat near the end of the bench in street clothes during the Cougars' victory over Wyoming last Saturday in Provo.
BYU players say they're glad Davies has made the trip to Las Vegas with them.
"It's great. He's a brother to us," said guard Jimmer Fredette. "It feels right to have him on the bench."
"He's as big a part of this team as anyone," said guard Jackson Emery. "He screwed up. We've all screwed up in our own individual ways. It's good to have him here. He deserves it. He's helped us to get to this part of the year. It's a big confidence boost knowing he's on the bench supporting us and not somewhere else."
After BYU's practice session Wednesday, coach Dave Rose fielded several questions about Davies' presence on the bench. He said the decision was for the benefit of both Davies and his team.
Asked what message having Davies with the team sends, Rose replied, "There's no message. This is about our team. We decided to bring him because we thought it would be good for both of us."
Will Davies accompany the Cougars to the NCAA Tournament next week?
"That's yet to be determined," Rose said.
WHACHU TALKIN' 'BOUT WILLIS?: UNLV's Tre'Von Willis just can't resist bad-mouthing Fredette.
This week, Willis reacted to Fredette earning Mountain West Conference player-of-the-year honors.
"My vote would have been for (San Diego State's) Kawhi Leonard or maybe D.J. Gay, all-around players who can play defense," Willis told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Willis' trash-talking of Fredette has been going on all season.
Before BYU visited UNLV on Jan. 5, Willis said, "They've got a preseason All-American and supposedly the best player in the conference on the other team, so that's gonna be nothing but fun."
Then, Willis added: "I try to make (Fredette) earn everything he gets. Like I said, he's got all of those (pre-season All-America) accolades, but he's gotta come in and prove it."
And Fredette proved it, knocking down seven 3-pointers and scoring 39 points, most of them against Willis, to lead the Cougars to an 89-77 victory.
A month later, when the two teams played in Provo, Willis ripped Fredette again. He was quoted as saying that Fredette "doesn't want to pass the ball. He wants to shoot the ball every single time."
So what did Fredette do? He tallied seven assists as three of his teammates scored in double figures, and he poured in 29 points himself. The Cougars won again, 78-64.
Asked about Willis' pre-game comments, Fredette said he didn't hear them. But in the game's waning moments, Fredette drove hard to the hoop against Willis, scored a layup, and stared Willis down with an icy glare.
Willis admitted afterward the defensive job against Fredette "wasn't good enough."
If the two players, and teams, meet again, it will be in the MWC Tournament finals on Saturday.
NINE LIVES: When it comes to the MWC Tournament, it's not a bad thing to be the last-place team and No. 9 seed. TCU's victory over Wyoming on Wednesday marked the fourth consecutive year that a No. 9 seed with a regular-season conference win total of one or fewer has beaten the No. 8 seed in the play-in game.