PROVO — Following the latest national trend of teams promptly losing once they reach the Top 3 in the national polls, No. 3 BYU failed to show up in its 82-64 loss to New Mexico Wednesday night.
The culprit in this case was BYU’s inability to consistently make shots, especially from 3-point range.
After hitting 14-of-24 3-pointers against San Diego State last week, BYU went ice-cold against the Lobos, making 5-of-26 from beyond the arc, including a season-worst 1-for-9 by Jimmer Fredette.
Fredette still finished with a game-high 33 points, but most of those came once the game was already out of hand. It’s also important to note that he became much more effective once he started attacking the rim. Fredette hit 12-of-12 from the free-throw line, with eight of those attempts coming in the second half.
While Fredette’s peripheral stats — six assists, five rebounds and four steals — were solid, his scoring wasn’t timely enough to keep BYU from falling behind and floundering to an embarrassing loss.
In general, BYU’s performance provided a perfect example of how the Cougars, when cold, can easily shoot themselves out of the game.
New Mexico, on the other hand, lit the Marriott Center nets on fire. Usually a mediocre shooting team, the Lobos made 9-of-20 from 3-point range. Phillip McDonald, who scored team-high 26, hit 5-of-9 from deep, while Kendall Williams made 3-of-5 from long distance.
New Mexico, it seems, saves its best performances for the Cougars.
Besides their shooting woes, the Cougars were dominated on the boards with New Mexico grabbing a 16-rebound advantage (45-29). Drew Gordon ripped down 16 rebounds to go along with 15 points. By comparison, BYU’s starting five combined for only 18 rebounds.
BYU will continue to adjust to life without Brandon Davies, who was dismissed from the team earlier this week. Without Davies manning the middle, the Cougars were weak on the boards and on the defensive interior, while the other bigs — most notably Noah Hartsock — struggled to pick up the slack.
Hartsock had made 10-of-11 shots the previous two games, but missed all four of his shots Wednesday. He added six rebounds and three blocks.