Lots at stake when BYU faces New Mexico (again)

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BYU’s moment of truth will be Friday’s Mountain West Conference tournament semifinal.

Beat New Mexico and the Cougars will end a four-game losing streak to the Lobos and will likely assure themselves a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament.

But the odds of that happening seem mighty slim. BYU (29-3) was less than impressive in Thursday’s 64-58 win vs. TCU. Jimmer Fredette and Jackson Emery combined to go 10-34 from the field and 5 of 19 beyond the arc. Both are in prolonged shooting slumps (and a probably a little tired after playing every minute of Thursday’s game).

It wasn’t until TCU botched some late possessions that BYU even pulled away.

“Yeah, definitely we’re looking forward to tomorrow,” Fredette said. “This game’s done with now. We got the win. That’s really what matters. We keep moving forward. It’s one and done. I’m just proud of my teammates, how we battled, found a way to win, even though we didn’t play very well.”

New Mexico no doubt is looking forward to another game against BYU, which is still adjusting to life without center Brandon Davies, their third-leading scorer and leading rebounder. No Davies means a small lineup, matchup issues and defenses that can key on Fredette.

To his credit, he’s optimistic about Friday, and the NCAA tournament. Must be an eternal optimist.

“I don’t think we have to necessarily reinvent anything,” he said. “We still have guys on this team that can play and do the stuff. They’re still going to play the same way. I don’t think that we have to necessarily change the way we play to be a better team.”

A loss probably drops BYU to a No. 3 seed in the NCAA tournament – and even more vulnerable to an early exit.

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