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BYU basketball: Brandon Davies' absence is huge on the inside

Published: Friday, Sept. 4 2015 3:46 p.m. MDT

PROVO — Before Wednesday night's game with New Mexico, the hope for BYU was that Brandon Davies wouldn't be missed too much and that Cougar reserves would be able to fill in.

It didn't happen.

The Cougars didn't have Davies and his replacements weren't able to take his place.

With Davies' inside presence gone, the Lobos attacked the basket with a vengeance and outrebounded the Cougars, who had been outrebounding opponents by four a game, by a whopping 45 to 29.

New Mexico coach Steve Alford said his team wanted to go inside more than usual to take advantage of Davies' absence in the middle.

"The guys did a good job of understanding what we want to do that was to beat them inside — on the backboard and get paint scores," said Alford. "With (Davies) out, we had much more emphasis of going inside. He's been a big key for them all year. He's very skilled and talented, so that's a tremendous loss. So we went inside as much as possible and didn't start shooting threes before we went inside."

New Mexico center Drew Gordon, who finished with 15 points and 16 rebounds, tried to downplay Davies' absence a bit, saying the Cougars were "making sure everyone was helping inside." However, he did notice a difference with BYU's inside game.

"It was definitely noticeable, but you try to block out all outside factors during the game with what they had," Gordon said. "It definitely hurt them that Davies wasn't there, but you've got to play with what you've got. They have some very talented players on the inside."

The Cougars started 6-foot-10 junior James Anderson at center, but he proved to be ineffective as he let a couple of rebounds slip out of his hands and was quickly replaced. He ended up playing just five minutes in the first half with a dunk off a pass from Fredette.

In the second half, the Cougars went small with 6-6 Logan Magnusson replacing Anderson in the starting lineup. The Cougars made a couple of runs, but could never get closer than 11 points.

Anderson ended up with four points and one rebound in 11 minutes, while Mangusson had two points and two rebounds in 21 minutes.

However just as big of a factor as the Cougars' lack of inside presence was their poor shooting.

Those shots that were falling in San Diego four days earlier weren't Wednesday night. The Cougars shot their second-lowest percentage of the year, just 33.9 percent from the field, including just 26.7 percent in the decisive first half.

From 3-point range, the Cougars were worse, an abysmal 5 of 26, their worst of the season at 19.2 percent.

After going 6-for-7 against the Aztecs, Noah Hartsock didn't make a shot, going 0-for-4 from the field and finishing with zero points.

Charles Abouo, who was 6 of 11 in San Diego, could only manage 1 of 6 from the field.

Jackson Emery went 4 for 12, while Jimmer Fredette was 10 of 26, including a dismal 1 of 9 from 3-point range.

Now the Lobos hope they can see BYU in the Mountain West Conference tournament next week and go for three in a row this year against the Cougars..

Alford said the Lobos have been "striving" to get to the 4 vs. 5 game next week in Las Vegas, which would give them a shot at BYU in the second round, if BYU gets the No. 1 seed and wins in the first round.

"Maybe if BYU wins Saturday and we win Saturday, we'll get that No. 4 spot and we'll have the chance to run into BYU again," said Philip McDonald, who led the Lobos with 26 points. "We've got momentum right now and are playing pretty good."

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