While it might be hard to confuse Daniel-Meyer Coliseum with Kansas’ Allen Fieldhouse most nights, Saturday night’s 73-67 Horned Frog victory felt like a made-for-ESPN game.
In a hard fought contest featuring six ties and nine lead changes, the Horned Frogs (13-16, 5-9 Mountain West) capitalized on Colorado State (15-13, 6-8) turnovers and missed shots down the stretch to fend off a Ram victory.
TCU’s offensive production was as balanced as it’s been all season, with three players in double figures. Senior forward Zvonko Buljan led the Horned Frogs in points with 17. Junior guard Greg Hill had 16 points and senior forward Edvinas Ruzgas dropped in 13.
A two-point lead into halftime lead for the Horned Frogs, 33-31, didn’t last long into the second half as missed shots coupled with good execution in the paint by the Rams put Colorado State up nine points with nine minutes to go in the second half, by a margin of 59-50. The Frogs went on a 23-8 run in the final nine minutes to head butt the Rams back to Fort Collins.
After the game, Buljan said the game was as complete of a game as the Frogs have played all year.
“We made some stops, got some baskets and kept it close to win this game,” Buljan said.
Buljan said the absence of emerging freshman center Nikola Cerina, who was out for the second straight game with a concussion suffered in practice, was tough for the team, but they managed to band together and get the win.
“We just had communication and made plays,” Buljan said.
While the offense was a big factor in the game, Horned Frog head coach Jim Christian gave credit for the win to his team’s 1-3-1 zone defense, which allowed TCU to play tight and score 16 points off of Ram turnovers.
“When we had to get stops we got stops,” Christian said. “We were very aggressive in the 1-3-1 and got some good plays and some turnovers.”
The Frogs were dominant from three-point range during the game, going 7 for 12 from beyond the arc.
Christian cited the support from the crowd of 4,887 as a major factor in the win.
“There was a great energy in the building . it was really encouraging and hopefully a sign of things to come if we keep playing well,” he said.
The Horned Frogs head to Albuquerque to take on No. 10 New Mexico on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.