TCU Continues to Fight, Falls to UNLV


For the small crowd that headed into Daniel Meyer Coliseum, they saw more of the same for the TCU men’s basketball team. When the offense is clicking, the defense is porous. When the defense is playing well, they cannot score.

Jim Christian’s young players are quickly learning exactly what it takes to close out a meaningful conference game.

Such has been the story all year for Jim Christian and the Frogs.

The Frogs were coming off their best game of the Mountain West Conference season vs. San Diego State. Coach Jim Christian said, “We were tougher than San Diego State, and tonight, I thought they were the tougher team.”

TCU men’s basketball came out of the gates leading 9-0 against formerly ranked UNLV. TCU played even through the first ten minutes with UNLV who is 17-6 overall and 5-4 in the Mountain West Conference. TCU lost to the Runnin’ Rebels 83-49 in Las Vegas earlier in January.

TCU’s defense lost steam in the latter part of the first half and UNLV hung 47 first half points on a TCU team that has struggled defensively throughout the season. Greg Hill and Garlon Green led TCU in scoring in the first half with 8 points.
Coach Jim Christian said, “We came out in the first four minutes, and I thought we played very hard and very smart. But then, we just let them get too many easy baskets.”

Despite Jim Christian’s begging and pleading to play defense, the defensive struggles continued for TCU in the second half as UNLV opened up a 19 point lead with 15 minutes remaining. Twice TCU cut the Runnin’ Rebel lead down to 12, and with 7:41 remaining in the contest, the Frogs trailed 72-63 after two Hank Thorns free throws.

TCU then forced a turnover and Hank Thorns found Nikola Gacesa under the basket. Gacesa made the basket and hit a free throw to cut the lead to 6. The Rebels then answered with a three of their own. but defensive lapses continued as UNLV answered each TCU basket with one of their own. An 8-2 run for

UNLV after the lead had been cut to 77-71 sealed the win 94-79 for UNLV.
Point guard Hank Thorns Jr. Knows that they must put their offensive and defensive games together if they are going to win consistently. “We have to come to practice tomorrow and get better,” Thorns said.

TCU has played like a group of athletes and individuals. Rarely have they shared the basketball or played consistent team defense where each member on the floor relies on everyone else.

On defense, when four guys seem in sync, the other falters and allows the opponent to score.

“Defense comes down to toughness and the will to want to stop somebody. That is defense.”
TCU allowed 61% shooting to the visiting Rebels, and UNLV has not been a good shooting team this season. UNLV shot 11-17 from 3 point land.

Normally when TCU scores 70 points…they win. Thorns said, “When I saw we had 70, I thought we shouldn’t be losing. But it’s our defense.”

Jim Christian emphasized that he remains encouraged by his team’s effort, and he is happy with the way they have bonded since the Ronnie Moss suspension and Sammy Yeager dismissal. “They play harder, and I think they are more together than they have ever been. They are enjoying each other more, and they are more enjoyable to coach.”

Hank Thorns played perhaps his best game of the season finishing with 21 points and 9 assists. Leading scorer Ronnie Moss continues to sit out after being indefinitely suspended by Jim Christian in late January. Other players in double figures were senior forward Nikola Gacesa (13), Greg Hill (15), and sophomore Garlon Green (12).

While 79 points was good enough for a TCU victory, giving up 94 points leads to a loss every time. TCU falls to 10-15 on the season while UNLV moves to 18-6. For their next contest, the Frogs will travel to Laramie, Wyoming, to take on the Wyoming Cowboys.

At Wyoming is a very winnable game, and it is a game that TCU must have. The game vs. Wyoming is exactly the type of game that a good team wins and wins convincingly.

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