TCU couldn’t hand No. 6 San Diego State (16-0) their first loss of the basketball season, falling to the Aztecs 66-53 in the Horned Frogs’ Mountain West Conference opener at Daniel-Meyer Coliseum.
TCU (9-7) held their own in the first half while junior guard Ronnie Moss became the fifth Frog to score over 1,000 points and record over 300 assists, but the individual feat was overshadowed by the Aztecs’ second-half display of why they are one of seven undefeated teams remaining in the nation.
“I thought we hit a wall, physically,” said head basketball coach Jim Christian. “We looked tight. We traveled a lot and we’ve played a lot of games and it just kind of hit us tonight.
“I told our team at halftime, “We’re down three to the No. 6 team in the country and you shot 33 percent in your building. We’ve shot the ball better, so we should be feeling good.'”
The Aztecs displayed their athletic ability in the second half behind 18 points and 10 rebounds from senior forward Malcolm Thomas, while a variety of alley-oops and dunks by the Aztecs awed the home crowd in the second home-loss of the season for the Frogs.
“Tonight I think we got frustrated that our shots weren’t going in the first half, and then we had some quick fouls,” said San Diego State head basketball coach Jim Fisher. “We didn’t play with as much composure as I would have liked. But we talked about it at halftime. The guys off the bench, James Rahon, Tim Shelton, Brian Carlwell and Jamaal Franklin, all did very well.”
TCU sophomore forward Garlon Green led the Frogs with 13 points and eight rebounds, but it would not be good enough to keep Christian undefeated in MWC opening games as TCU’s head coach.
Green nailed a three-pointer with just over six minutes remaining to regain a first half lead for the Frogs. After a Frogs’ stop, Green laid a thunderous alley-oop jam to put the Frogs up 23-19 with 5:43 remaining in the first half.
San Diego State took the lead 27-26 with under two minutes to go in the first half and wouldn’t let TCU back in the game after a Aztecs’ center Brian Carlwell dunked two of his eight points to put the Aztecs up 29-26.
The Aztecs, a second-half team by percentages, came out of the gates roaring after half time, building an eight point in under two minutes, but a Moss three-pointer brought the Frogs to five.
Up 36-21, The Aztecs’ went on a 13-0 run, capitalizing on a number of Mosses’ six turnovers for the game.
“We have to figure out what’s going on and how we can better ourselves,” said TCU junior guard Hank Thorns. “We have to figure out where we can get our energy from in the second half.”
Rose Bowl fever hasn’t died down quite yet8212; head football coach Gary Patterson was courtside talking to media and fans before tip-off.
San Diego State won its 16th straight game and fifth consecutive game against TCU.
TCU is still looking for its first victory over a ranked opponent since defeating then No. 14/13 Air Force on Feb. 24, 2007.
TCU is 2-1 in conference openers under Jim Christian and 3-3 overall as a member of the Mountain West Conference.
Second half Aztecs: San Diego State was averaging more than four more points a game in the second half and held opponents to 28.7 points a game. The Aztecs’ held TCU to 27 points and 40.9 percent shooting in the game.
San Diego State held advantages in nearly every statistical category: assists (17 to 11); blocks (five to one); steals (eight to three); rebounds (38 to 35).
TCU will play at UNLV Saturday at 9:00 p.m. CT. The game can be watched on The Mtn. and heard on 88.7 FM KTCU.