New Mexico Shocks BYU Again: Can the Cougars Get Back on Track?

Doug BrodessCorrespondent IMarch 3, 2011

OKLAHOMA CITY - MARCH 20:  Jimmer Fredette #32 of the Brigham Young Cougars looks on as the Kansas State Wildcats huddle up in the background during the second round of the 2010 NCAA men's basketball tournament at Ford Center on March 20, 2010 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The New Mexico Lobos dominated the distracted BYU Cougars on Wednesday night in Provo 82-64.

The win gave Steve Alford's Lobos a sweep over BYU (27-3, 13-2 MWC) this year. The losses to New Mexico are BYU's only two conferences setbacks this season.

A team that looked frightening just days ago in a decisive road victory against highly-ranked San Diego State now appeared to be frightened.

The Cougars were outrebounded 45-29 and went 20 of 59 from the field, including a season-worst five of 26 from beyond the arc.

Even the normally unflappable Jimmer Fredette was off his game. While the nation's leading scorer still put up 33 points, he only made one-of-nine from three-point range. Fredette is shooting just over 40 percent on the season from beyond the arc.   

The question that needs to be answered is: Can Dave Rose, Cougar head coach, get his team refocused and re-energized following the dismissal of starting forward and leading rebounder, Brandon Davies?

On a practical level, Rose needs to determine what the best line-up to put on the court. The Cougars had started the same five players for 20 straight games. 

BYU already lacked frontcourt options beyond Davies. Now, without the 6'9", 235 pound forward, who averaged 11 points and six rebounds on the floor, BYU may be forced to play small. 

Along with reinventing themselves on the fly, the Cougars must mentally move on, putting this ill-timed incident in their rear-view mirror.

BYU finishes the regular season Saturday against Wyoming, then it's on to the Mountain West tournament next week in Las Vegas.

If the Cougars still have hope to receive a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament, they will need to win their upcoming games in convincing fashion.

By doing so, they will send a clear message to the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee and the College Basketball world that they are still a team to be reckoned with.