All TCU. All the time.

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TCU 360

All TCU. All the time.

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Frogs beat Colorado State, turn attention toward no. 11 UNLV

Frogs beat Colorado State, turn attention toward no. 11 UNLV

TCU head coach Jim Christian trudged out of the home team locker room late Saturday night, making his way down the hallway leading to the corps of reporters huddled in the open area under the north end of Daniel-Meyer Coliseum.

Christian looked drained — physically, emotionally, mentally.

“We’ve played 24 games,” Christian said. “I feel like 19 of them have come down to the last possession.”

This time, Christian’s squad came out on the high end.

The TCU men’s basketball team beat Colorado State 75-71 over the weekend, improving to 14-10 on the season and 4-4 in Mountain West Conference play.

But TCU’s win over the Rams was a grind, a back-and-forth, come-from-behind victory that wasn’t decided until Hank Thorns made two free throws to give the Frogs a two-possession lead with 11 seconds left.

Getting to that point was anything but easy for the Frogs, who trailed by five points at halftime and had to squeeze 20 points out of reserve center Craig Williams.

Williams, who missed the SMU game last week with a bruised tailbone, managed to knock down four of five 3-pointers Saturday night.

The 6-foot-8 transfer from Temple re-aggravated the injury late in the second half but stayed in, playing through it and scoring four points in the game’s final three minutes.

Williams said the pain was there but that it wasn’t going to keep him out of the game.

“I was feeling it toward the ending of the game,” Williams said. “I didn’t want to come out.”

But not even Williams’ hot hand could have helped avert the meltdown that nearly happened late in the game.

Holding a slim 71-69 lead with under a minute left, TCU had the ball and a chance to possibly seal the game with a bucket.

Point guard Kyan Anderson, apparently not paying attention to the shot clock, passed up an open 3-pointer, drove inside, then dished it to Thorns, who was forced to heave a 23-footer to avoid a shot clock violation.

He didn’t, as TCU turned it over and gave the Rams a chance to win it on a final shot.

But Anderson, a true freshman, atoned for his mistake, drawing a foul on the other end and sinking both of his free throws with 19 seconds left.

That put TCU up 73-69 and threw Colorado State back into a game of catch-up it wouldn’t be able to win.

Anderson’s brief, goat-to-hero series might have been as reflective as any for TCU’s three-steps-forward, two-steps-back kind of season.

The Frogs had won three of four heading into San Diego State on Feb. 4. Then, they jumped out to a 23-16 lead in the first half only to have the Aztecs go on a 17-4 run and eventually win 83-73.

The Frogs turned right around Wednesday and lost to SMU, whose win over its crosstown rival snapped a five-game losing streak.

But then the Frogs found a way against Colorado State.

And, for those critical of TCU’s up-and-down nature, at least there’s been more up than down — where the Frogs usually found themselves last year as they limped through a 1-15 Mountain West record.

Christian knows there’s a fine line between good and bad, and his team walks it every night.

“Every possession is so important,” Christian said. “Every game you play comes down to the final possession, so we can’t give up easy baskets in the post, and we can’t give up easy baskets on the offensive boards.”

That’s something they sure can’t do tonight when they host No. 11 UNLV at 6:30 p.m.

A loss wouldn’t be surprising — the Rebels are first in the Mountain West and coming off a 65-63 win over San Diego State.

But a win is a possible, especially at home, where the Frogs are undefeated in conference play.

It’s just a matter of making it happen, Christian said.

“They’re the 14th-ranked team in the country for a reason,” Christian said after Saturday’s game. “But we’re capable of beating anybody in the league. If we play well, share the ball, play with confidence, we can play with anybody in the league. We know that. We just have to go out and do it.”

Either way, Christian knows the success recipe for this year’s team is simple: Slug it out.

“We’re going to have to win a certain way here,” Christian said. “We’re going to have to fight and grind until we get there.”

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