February 2, 2012
Frogs Turn Up Defense to Down Wyoming; 58-52
FORT WORTH--Once again, a slow start dug TCU (13-8, 3-3) an early deficit. Wyoming led 6-0, and just over two minutes into the contest, Jim Christian called a timeout to put a halt to the sluggish start.
For the rest of the first half, the Frogs responded, and thanks to ten first half points from Amric Fields, TCU carried a 35-30 lead into the locker room.
Craig Williams was asked post game what his team needed to do to get out to a better start. "I don't know," Williams said. "I guess we need to turn on some music in the locker room and just go crazy or something."
The start of the second half looked eerily similar to the first half as the Cowboys (17-5) again opened the half on a 6-0 run. From the 15 minute mark to the ten minute mark, TCU was able to put distance between themselves and Wyoming.
The Frogs' largest lead was 11, but Wyoming could never regain the lead.
The Frogs grabbed a 58-52 victory to advance to 3-3 in Mountain West Conference play.
"This was obviously a big win, so we knew it was going to be [a close] basketball game. We look at the big picture and we understand that we have played three pretty tough road games," Christian said. "We've gone to Colorado State, UNLV, and we went to New Mexico. We know that we had one opportunity that we let slide out of our fingers. If we had gotten that game, we're a game out of first."
The Frogs have now won five in a row at home. The Frogs are now 10-1 in games decided by six points or less on the season.
Head coach Jim Christian stressed to his team that protecting their home floor. "You have to win at home to be in this race, and we understand that," Christian said.
TCU also cracked the magic number of 45 percent shooting. The Frogs are 8-0 on the season when they shoot 45 percent or better from the floor. They are also 8-0 when outrebounding their opponents.
"Tonight when we had to make stops, we made stops. When we had to make shots, we made shots. And that is what February and March basketball is all about," Jim Christian said.
Craig Williams and Adrick McKinney came up big for the Frogs inside against two of the most physical big men in the Mountain West Conference.
Leonard Washington, a transfer from USC, and Adam Waddell paced Wyoming offensively. Washington (21 points) and Waddell (13 points) were nearly negated by the 21 combined points that TCU got from McKinney and Williams.
"Craig has a lot of ability. For so long when he was at Temple, he was this role player that came in and only did one thing. When you watch him play, there is a lot of things that he can do on the floor," Christian said. "He can be a really really big play for us as long as he keeps doing the things he's doing."
"[Williams] has worked hard in practice, and it is paying off in the games," Christian said of his senior center.
With the inside advantage negated, TCU's guard were able to bother the Wyoming backcourt with their length and athleticism.
Jim Christian said he thought that Luke Martinez (the Mountain West Conference's leading three point shooter) and JayDee Luster were out of sorts.
"They are so skilled and they shoot the ball so well. Luster had been such a force at getting guys the ball. We thought coming in that coming in and containing and putting pressure on them was gonna be a big key for us," Christian said.
The Frogs held Wyoming to just 30 percent shooting from the floor in the second half. The Pokes shoot 47 percent from the floor on the season. Christian was very happy with his team's defensive intensity in the second half.
Martinez shot just 2-12 from the floor. All 12 of those field goal attempts were from three point land. Luster was forced into five turnovers as compared to just two assists by TCU's point guard combo Kyan Anderson and Hank Thorns Jr.
Craig Williams who finished with seven rebounds to go along with his 13 points said his role at TCU took some getting used to after he was mainly an outside shooter at Temple where he played the first three years of his college career.
"It's like a 180. At Temple, I was coming off the bench and played about ten minutes per game. Here they want me to play 20 plus minutes a game. Plus at Temple, all I did was shoot threes," Williams said.
Amric Fields finished with just ten points for the game. All ten of those came in
the first half.
Jim Christian says that even know he can feel his team getting better. There is still significant room for improvement.
"We're still not clicking the way I hoped we would be in February. We still ahve a couple of guys who are not playing as well as they would have liked, but they're still making plays," Christian said. "Garlon is not shooting the ball well, but they he makes the biggest play of the night on the blocked shot (Green blocked JayDee Luster's layup with 30 seconds to play)."
The Frogs travel to San Diego State this Saturday to take on the nationally ranked Aztecs. That home game will be the last road game for the Frogs vs. the conferences top four teams from a year ago.
The schedule appears to ease up on the Frogs in the second half of their Mountain West Conference slate.
After San Diego State, TCU will take a break from Mountain West Conference play, and take on the SMU Mustangs in Dallas.
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