Sports

TCU men suffer cooldown in first-round MWC rout

LAS VEGAS -- TCU coach Jim Christian was left shaking his head. He was reading the box score at the postgame interview table, seeing what he already knew.

His Horned Frogs had just been dominated 81-60 by Colorado State in the first round of the Mountain West Conference tournament at the Thomas & Mack Center.

The fifth-seeded Frogs struggled from the jump, falling behind quickly 9-0, with Rams guard Wes Eikmeier scoring eight of the points. But it was Pierce Hornung who ultimately did the most damage against TCU (17-14). The forward led the Rams (20-10) with 16 points and 14 rebounds, seemingly playing unguarded for much of the game. He made 8 of 11 shots and had nine offensive rebounds as CSU outrebounded the Frogs 38-27.

The Rams meet top seed San Diego State at 8 p.m. today in a semifinal. TCU hopes to receive an invitation to either the CBI tournament or CollegeInsider.com tournament.

"We didn't come out with the fire and intensity we need to come out with in a conference tournament game and that's disappointing," Christian said. "It was both ends of the floor. The first four minutes we were a little stagnant on offense and really, really bad on defense. Usually it's one or the other. We were just giving up buckets."

Colorado State led 42-26 at the half after shooting nearly 60 percent from the field. Meanwhile, TCU was struggling to knock down shots from the start. The Frogs made just 2 of 20 shots from the 3-point arc and shot just 38.6 percent overall for the game.

"I honestly can't explain it," TCU senior J.R. Cadot said of the defensive effort. "They out-toughed us on both ends of the court."

In the second half, the routine continued. The Rams found the open man or lane and converted an easy basket. At the other end of the floor, TCU missed from outside or didn't finish a layup. The Frogs were within 53-42 with 13:00 remaining, but never pulled closer. The Rams eventually led by as many as 22 points.

"I wouldn't have envisioned us playing the way we played," Christian said. "The key to our game plan was to keep them out of the lane and we did a poor job from the outset of containing dribble penetration, and it led to a lot of easy baskets. We dug too deep of a hole. We kind of lost our offensive discipline and that's what happens when you dig yourself a hole."

Thorns led the Frogs with 19 points and five assists. Cadot had 10 points and led the Frogs with six rebounds.

"We didn't show up defensively, including me," Thorns said. "I let Eikmeier get off to a fast start. We acted like we didn't have anything to play for. You win games on defense and we just didn't do that today."

Stefan Stevenson

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Twitter: @FollowtheFrogs

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