Okay, a big impact on the whole season may be a stretch. Then again, Davies’ impressive showing could be a crucial personal turning point that could also add another dimension to the team, making it much more dangerous down the road. Rose has stated multiple times that his team has a great backcourt, but that it’s ultimately how much the frontcourt develops that will determine the team’s success.
In any event, it was encouraging for many to see the Cougars prevail in their first true road game all while star Jimmer Fredette scored a season-low 13 points.
“A lot of players stepped up and made big plays, and I think that’s what’s good about our team,” said Noah Hartsock. “Different players can score … [opponents] can focus on Jimmer, but there’s a lot of different players who can step up and contribute to our team’s success.”
“I think that we’ve got a lot more consistent play out of a larger group of guys, and I thought that [against Creighton] we took a real step forward in a game where they did a really good job on Jimmer, controlling Jimmer,” said Coach Rose. “We had a lot of help offensively from other guys.”
Other guys did in fact step up, but Davies was ultimately the catalyst when it came to BYU taking control against Creighton. He was particularly big in the latter part of the game, when he helped BYU pull away in what had been a tight game up until then. His 24 points were a career-high, he had zero turnovers, and he even scored the last 13 points of the game for the Cougars.
“Brandon stepped up down the stretch,” said Hartsock. “He was just a beast inside. They didn’t have anyone who could really control him.”
“It was good,” Davies said about realizing that Creighton couldn’t defend him. “I have great teammates around me that were encouraging it. They were letting me know that they couldn’t [defend me]. They told me that I’m gonna be getting the ball, so be ready for it.”
Get the ball he did, and he made the most of it. Still, Davies made sure to give a lot of credit to BYU’s guards, saying that the way they played dictated how Creighton defended him. Like many teams have done and many teams will do, Creighton focused its defensive efforts on Fredette, one of the nation’s leading scorers.
“Last [Wednesday] for some reason [Davies] had a good matchup, and they spent so much time and effort worrying about Jimmer and where he was that [Davies] had a one-on-one matchup in the post the whole night,” said Rose. “They never brought a second defender, they never dropped a guy down, and I think he just felt comfortable with the space, and then attacked really well. And then our guys just started getting confidence in him and throwing the ball in the post, and that’s a great sign.”
“As soon as we saw he was playing really great, Coach just wanted to keep going to him because their big [men] were getting in foul trouble and Brandon was just playing confidently,” said Hartsock.
“Confidently” is the key word. Given how the season had played out until this point, one had to wonder how much confidence Davies actually had.
He was the assumed starter heading into this season, and he did start the season opener against Fresno State, but only scored two points. He was then relegated to bench player in the next game against Utah State, and only played one minute and scored no points. He did return to the starting lineup, but only after forward Chris Collinsworth suffered an ankle sprain that he has yet to return from.
It was hardly what people had expected from Davies, who had some noteworthy performances last year as a true freshman but whose progress was also hurt by a midseason appendectomy. This year he was being counted on to take on a bigger role to compensate for the graduation of Chris Miles. But, his struggles continued.
In the two games recently played in South Padre Island, Davies scored a combined total of 13 points.
“I put a lot of work into it, but things weren’t going as well, so sometimes it just takes time,” said Davies, who admitted to going through some frustration due to his slow start.
Fortunately, his time came in the Creighton game, which was a stark contrast from the game against South Florida.
Against South Florida, Davies took 10 shots from the field and six shots from the line, and ended up scoring only four points. By comparison, his 24 points against Creighton came after taking 11 shots from the field and nine shots from the line. He went from 1-of-10 shooting from the field in one game to 9-of-11 shooting from the field two games later.
“I think that he’s done a great job of working at it,” Rose said about Davies’ improvement. “I think that Coach LaComb has spent a lot of extra time with him, Coach Rice spent a lot of time at the free throw line with him, and that Brandon understands how important he is to this team.”
Obviously Davies’ recent performance won’t mean much if it ends up being a fluke. It is hoped that it will serve as a confidence booster, not to mention a sign of things to come.
“Just keep going, just try to stay consistent the best I can,” Davies said when asked what his big game meant for him going forward. “That’s one of the things Coach has emphasized for me, and it’s one of the things I’ve been working on, so hopefully I can keep it rolling.”
Another thing that Coach Rose has emphasized with Davies is staying out of foul trouble.
“We’ve had quite a few conversations with Brandon,” said Rose about the foul-trouble issue, his semi-laugh hinting at the struggle it’s been to keep him on the floor. The day after his protégé fouled out against Saint Mary’s after picking up his fourth and fifth fouls just a moment apart, Rose and him had “quite the conversation” about how important it was for him to stay out on the floor.
“Going into the [Creighton] game I guess I was just a little overaggressive,” said Davies. “I need to play smarter so I can stay in the game for longer, but I think it sticks with you when you get early fouls like that.”
As mentioned earlier, Rose didn’t pull Davies after he picked up his third foul early in the second half against Creighton. He knew Davies couldn’t get into a flow if they kept taking him in and out of the game. Davies ended up playing the entire second half and didn’t pick up any other fouls.
“I just tried to push it to the back of my head and not to dwell on it too much, still be aggressive but play smart at the same time,” Davies said about playing with the three fouls.
In a strange way, Chris Collinsworth’s injury may have been a blessing in disguise. After all, he’ll be back soon and should hopefully be good as new, and it hasn’t cost the Cougars a game yet. Meanwhile, Davies noted that Collinsworth’s absence has allowed others – notably himself – to get more playing time.
“I think it’s a good experience just to be able to play as well as we’re playing right now without him,” Davies said.
As he awaits the return of his former Provo High teammate and current fellow Cougar, Davies is helped out by all of his teammates. Whether he’s been struggling or playing well, the rest of the team has been supportive of him.
“They’re all very complimentary,” Davies said. “Everyone knows when someone’s doing well or someone’s feeling it. They know how to get them the ball and when to get them the ball, and we’re a very close team. We talk about everything. On and off the court, it’s just a great group of guys.”