Head coach Jim Christian told junior forward Zvonko Buljan to pick up the effort for Wednesday night’s game against the Air Force Academy at Daniel-Meyer Coliseum.
The junior responded with a game-high 20 points, eight rebounds and five steals in a 62-50 win over the Falcons, snapping a six-game losing streak and putting a wide grin on the Croatian native’s face.
“I think we had confidence today,” he said. “We played together, and everybody was laughing and smiling and talking to each other.”
Buljan shot six of nine from the field, shouldering the bulk of the offense for senior Kevin Langford, the Horned Frogs’ leading scorer, who faced post pressure all night and was just 2-4 from the field. He finished with eight points and four rebounds.
“This was a tough team for (Langford) to play,” Christian said. “They pack it in so hard on Kevin … those kids are not big but they’re tough and they play angles, so it’s hard to get in.”
Freshman guard Ronnie Moss and junior guard Keion Mitchem both finished in double figures, taking advantage of open looks from the perimeter. TCU shot 40 percent from three-point range as a team.
“You know shots are eventually going to fall,” Christian said. “You just got to keep playing.”
An 8-2 run midway through the first half gave the Falcons the lead for most of the first 20 minutes, but Buljan kept the Horned Frogs within one at the break with 12 points, four rebounds and three steals.
TCU came out firing in the second half behind an early 8-3 run as Buljan scored all eight. The Horned Frogs never gave up that lead, putting the game out of reach with a 22-4 run in the latter part of the second half. Christian said his team was a bit tentative in the first half, something he stressed at halftime.
“I told them at halftime, ‘Just go play. Just relax and go play,'” he said. “And I thought some guys stepped up.”
TCU hopes to make it two in a row on the road Saturday in Wyoming. Tipoff is set for 2:30 p.m. and will be televised on the Mtn. Network.