The Horned Frogs come home after an 83-72 road loss Thursday to Brigham Young University, the current leader in the Mountain West. The Aztecs (16-6, 6-2 MWC) currently sit one game behind the Cougars in second place.
Head coach Neil Dougherty said he knows how big the game is to the team’s season.
“It’s huge. There isn’t any other way to put it,” Dougherty said. “We have got to do everything we can to win Saturday.”
TCU (11-10, 3-5 MWC) will welcome junior guard Henry Salter back to Daniel-Meyer Coliseum on Saturday to try to stop the team’s skid. Salter suffered a knee injury in the Horned Frogs’ loss to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas Rebels on Jan. 30.
“When he gets in sync it’s huge (to have Salter back),” Dougherty said. “At the same time, we’ve got to be a better team as a group. You just have to try to figure out how to continue to play.”
“We have different players on our team capable of scoring the ball, and I add a lot to the team offensively,” Salter said.
Junior guard Lorrenzo Wade will lead the Aztecs into Fort Worth. Wade ranks seventh in the conference in both field goal percentage and points, in which he averages 15.1 per game.
Dougherty said the team will have to get to the foul line against San Diego State, something the Frogs failed to do at all in the first half against BYU on Thursday.
“You’ve got to attack the basket, and a couple of times we did, but we didn’t attack it enough,” Dougherty said.
The Aztecs are one of the more athletic teams in the conference, Dougherty said, and the Frogs will have to play well on the boards to win. San Diego State ranks second in the conference in rebounding margin at +3.9 rebounds per game.
“Whenever you play them, rebounding is always an issue, getting the ball to the basket is always an issue, and those two things will be bigger than any other one factor in the game,” he said.
Hackett said the team lacks focus and concentration on both defense and offense, and the team needs to pick up its intensity for a must-win game Saturday.
“There are some things that need to be changed quickly to still have a positive outlook on the season,” Hackett said. “It’s not over yet, but if we don’t get things changed around soon it will be.”
At times the team does show great patience on offense and defense, Hackett said, and it just needs to play hard.
“As long as we’re playing hard it means that we can do the things we’re supposed to do – the things the coaches ask us to do,” Hackett said.
Dougherty said the team enjoys that attendance has been up at recent home games.
“I’ve been pleased with how the students have responded, because that is just so important to trying to get things on track,” Dougherty said. “You have to get your student body involved.”