LARAMIE, Wyo. -- The topsy-turvy season that is 2011-2012 Mountain West men's basketball continued Tuesday night at Arena-Auditorium.
Three days after TCU embarrassed first-place and 18th-ranked New Mexico, Wyoming returned the favor, knocking off the Frogs 71-59.
The Cowboys dominated from the start and never let the Horned Frogs sniff a comeback in the second half. The Frogs (17-12, 7-6 MWC) cut the deficit to five points with 15:45 remaining.
"We just played awful," TCU coach Jim Christian said. "From the first play of the game we didn't play with any passion or energy, and they took advantage of it."
It's the third time the Frogs have lost a game after a big win. Earlier this season the Frogs lost to Norfolk State a day after beating previously ranked Virginia. After beating then-No. 11 UNLV, the Frogs lost in the final seconds at last-place Boise State.
"It's Feb. 29, we're playing for a lot of things here," Christian said, searching for an answer to why his team didn't play with more immediacy. "As proud as I was on Saturday, I'm disappointed in them tonight. But we can't dwell on it."
TCU finishes the regular season against No. 21 San Diego State at 6 p.m. Saturday at Daniel-Meyer Coliseum. Seeding in the MWC tournament and potential postseason berths are still on the line. Another upset could go a long way in clinching a postseason spot for them. But the same could have been said for Tuesday's game at Wyoming, where TCU is 1-7 all-time.
Still, it seemed to have little effect on the Frogs' defensive determination from the jump. The Cowboys (20-9, 6-7), who entered Tuesday's game ahead of TCU in the rating percentage index, seemingly scored at will in the early going, finding open lanes to the basket and finishing with numerous dunks and layups.
"In the first nine minutes I think they hit one tough shot, and that's on us," Christian said. "They outhustled us all night, and that's what happens -- you get your butt kicked."
Leonard Washington wasn't much of a factor while Wyoming built a 14-point lead in the first half, but after the break the junior forward was a beast. He scored 17 of his game-high 23 points in the second half and led all players with 12 rebounds.
The Frogs' offense never got going, which Christian blamed on the defensive effort. TCU, which has produced an average of seven steals per game, forced just one Wyoming turnover. Hank Thorns made just 2 of 11 attempts from the field and had just two assists. J.R. Cadot led the Frogs with 11 points.
"We didn't play hard," Cadot said. "... Sometimes you have nights like that. We had no energy, and that's tough. We wanted to play hard, we just didn't. We couldn't beat anybody today."