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Jay Drew
Jay covers BYU athletics for The Salt Lake Tribune. You can follow him on Twitter @drewjay.

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BYU basketball is back in NCAA Tourney picture after wins last week, it appears

Looks like the Cougars have played their way back into the good graces of the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee, if Joe Lunardi's Bracketology projections are to be believed.

The latest iteration has the Cougars (20-6) as a No. 11 seed, playing No. 6 seed Louisville in Albuquerque. UNLV is a No. 3 seed in the same quadrant. Wouldn't a BYU-UNLV second-round matchup in the Pit be intriguing?

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The polls are also out this morning, and BYU is not ranked. No surprise there. The Cougars did get one vote, a No. 25 pick by Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News in the Associated Press Top 25 poll.

Gonzaga fell out of the one poll it was ranked in after losing to BYU on Thursday. St. Mary's is No. 13 in the coaches poll and No. 16 in the AP poll.

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The Cougars don't play against until Saturday, hosting Pepperdine at 4 p.m. in the Marriott Center. The big game in the WCC this week is St. Mary's-at-Gonzaga on Thursday. If the Gaels (22-2) get this one, they will most likely go undefeated in WCC play, and having watched the Cougars play both teams in the past two weeks, I would have to say that's a strong possibility.

Looking back at my coverage of Saturday's BYU-Portland game, a 79-60 win for the Cougars, I didn't give Brandon Davies enough credit for a dominating game. Not only did Davies have 18 points and 13 rebounds, he also had eight steals and four assists. He was just two steals away from a triple-double. Davies is mentioned in ESPN's Weekly Watch as having a "Performance that Wowed Us." However, they've got his steals and assists reversed.

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Davies was assessed a technical foul in the Portland game, but he says he didn't deserve it. It was the BYU junior's second T this season; he picked up one early in the Pepperdine game, you might recall.

It appeared that after UP's Dorian Cason picked up his fifth foul, he had some words with BYU's Matt Carlino. Davies tried to step between the two, and was hit with the technical.

"We were all into the game. You know, he ... I wasn't trying to start anything," Davies said. "I was just trying to get in between it and make sure nothing went down. But I guess [the referee] thought I was too aggressive."

When I asked Davies which players started the tiff, he said: "It doesn't really matter, it is over. That's part of the game. Both guys were a little frustrated. It's basketball, so it happens."

The Pilots could have cut the deficit to five with 3:30 remaining, but Ryan Nicholas missed both free throws and the Cougars scored the game's next four points to regain some breathing room. Coach Dave Rose was visibly upset with the official who called the technical; After the game, he explained why.

"I just thought that the foul was called on the perimeter, and it was No. 22's fifth foul, and [Cason] probably should have walked back towards their bench. And he walks right to the free-throw line, right at our guy. I just felt that there has to be some responsibility on his part. But that was my opinion, not theirs."

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Here are a few more comments from Davies after the game:

On the plethora of free throws:

"We knew it was going to be a physical game, and with me and Noah being the focus down there. They were running the double at us. But when we get through the double [team], all they can do is foul.

We were fortunate enough to get those fouls [called]."

On whether that was the focus because the outside shooting was off again:

"Yeah, that is always the focus -- just work it inside out and get things going inside. When we get things going inside, our shots seem to start falling a lot more and it just opens things up for us."

On Portland taking a lead in the second half:

"They just battled. You gotta give them a lot of credit. They had us on our heels there for a second. But we battled back and kept our composure and just tried to fight them on every possession. "

On Charles Abouo getting in foul trouble:

"You can't really tell him not to play hard because he's a our best defender out there on the guards and stuff, and so he is playing aggressive and he is helping us out. But as far as foul trouble goes, you can't always control it sometimes. He was just in the wrong place at the wrong time."

On Craig Cusick's play off the bench:

"They have to respect Craig when he comes in there, along with a lot of our other guards. They can't really double off our shooters. We are dangerous from outside, still, even though they haven't been falling for us lately."



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