That was about as even a contest as you'll see this season. As they say, the numbers don't lie. BYU shot 24 of 63 from the field (38.1%). New Mexico shot 24 of 63 overall too. BYU had 37 rebounds. So did the Lobos. The Cougars committed 11 turnovers, and yes, that was equal as well. So what was the difference?
Well, for starters the Lobos had 5 more offensive boards than the Cougars. After watching that game it felt more like 15. BYU simply couldn't keep Darington Hobson off the glass. The guy brought a big bottle of Windex tonight. New Mexico's leading scorer remarkably finished with just 5 points - but he had 14 rebounds, 4 of which were offensive. The entire BYU starting lineup finished with 4 offensive rebounds.
The other obvious difference was New Mexico shot 13 more free throws (33 to 20) than BYU. Of course, that's to be expected on the road - especially in a place like Albuquerque. But were the Lobos really attacking the rim that much more than the Cougars? Errr....
Props to Tavernari and Abouo off the bench. Each contributed in different ways: Tavernari with some very timely shooting and generally solid defense, and Abouo with some scrappy rebounds, loose ball recoveries, a nice outlet pass to Jimmer and most importantly some athleticism in the paint that was sorely needed.
Jimmer was his usual stellar self despite not having the most efficient night offensively. That's going to happen a lot on the road against teams as athletic and defensively active as New Mexico. But no one will be happier to return to Provo than Fredette's back court mate.
Jackson Emery is now 4 for 19 shooting the past two games - 1 of 13 from behind the arc. It gets worse. Remember when Emery hit 5 three's in a road win against Air Force a couple weeks ago? Since that game Emery has shot 3 of 23 (13%) from deep. What's incredible is that through the first 18 games of the season Jackson was shooting 45% from three-point range (46/102). He's not a bad perimeter shooter, he's just in a funk. Hopefully he'll be able to fix it over the next two games before heading to Las Vegas on February 6th.
Overall, this wasn't a shabby loss (if that makes any sense). New Mexico is a very good team. More than likely they'll finish the conference season ranked, with over 25 wins and likely a high seeding come tournament time. The good news for Cougar fans is you'll get a chance to see the Lobos come to the Marriott Center on February 27th. And on that day may Jackson Emery rain three's and then look into Dairese Gary's eyes and say, "I am Jack's smirking revenge." Mark your calendars peeps.