Men’s basketball falls to San Diego State 68-51

As the basketball season begins to fade away, so too has TCU’s chance at Mountain West Conference respectability.

The Horned Frogs (12-15, 4-8 MWC) were never really in contention from the start of Tuesday’s game, down by double digits for most of the contest on the way to a 68-51 loss to San Diego State (19-7, 8-4).

With the loss, the Frogs have virtually assured themselves of a fifth-straight sub-.500 finish, considering their last four games of the season come against conference foes with winning records, including No. 12 New Mexico and No. 16 BYU.

A sloppy performance in the first half by the Horned Frogs saw the Aztecs open up a big lead early and never look back as a ten-point lead at halftime only grew in the second half.

The Aztecs’ first-half shooting percentage was twice as high as the Frogs, as San Diego State shot nearly 62 percent from the field compared to the 31 percent for the Horned Frogs.

The Aztecs also outrebounded the Frogs 17 to 13 in the opening 20 minutes, and dished out twice as many assists, six, as the Frogs did in the first half.

After the game, TCU head coach Jim Christian criticized his team’s lack of effort and execution.

“Any time we have a challenge we don’t respond to it at all,” Christian said. “That’s frustrating. We came out and we played listless, we played with no energy and no heart.”

Christian said his team chooses to focus their energy at the wrong time.

“We don’t fight when the game needs to be won, we fight not to embarrass ourselves,” he said.

While the Frogs picked up their shooting in the second half to a 50 percent pace, the Aztecs stayed hot and capitalized on easy buckets to keep the Frogs at an arm’s length to the finish.

Two Aztec forwards, Kawhi Leonard and Billy White, had a field day from close range, dropping in 18 and 17 points, respectively.

“We looked like a bunch of little kids playing men,” Christian said of the Aztecs’ presence inside. “We can’t grow guys…I got to give credit to San Diego State.”

Sophomore guard Ronnie Moss and senior forward Zvonko Buljan carried the Frog offense all night. Moss scored 15 points on six for 16 shooting and tallied 5 assists. Buljan scored 12 points and added 4 rebounds. Sophomore forward Kevin Butler also dropped in 8 points for the Frogs and freshman guard Xavier Roberson had 9 points.

Horned Frog players were unavailable for comment to the media after the game.

The team will have a week off until they take on UNLV next Wednesday in Las Vegas.