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TCU’s upset bid falls short at Viejas

by Agustin Gonzalez

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San Diego State forward Billy White puts up a shot against TCU’s Nikola Cerina, Antonio Zaragoza / Photo Editor

San Diego State forward Billy White puts up a shot against TCU’s Nikola Cerina, Antonio Zaragoza / Photo Editor

In Saturday night’s game against TCU, something didn’t feel right.

The coaches could feel it. The players couldn’t put their fingers on it. Even the 12,414 usually rowdy fans sensed it.

But although the San Diego State Aztecs couldn’t figure it out for much of the game, they overcame lackadaisical play and the loss of two key players to injury to post a 60-53 victory against the visiting Horned Frogs (10-14, 1-8 Mountain West).

“Something definitely felt off in the first half and we couldn’t figure out what it was,” senior point guard D.J. Gay said. “There were some things we wanted to do out there that we just didn’t do. At halftime we talked as a team and the coaches got on our case. We tried to pick up the tempo in the second half.”

Although TCU was at the bottom of the MWC, it was the Horned Frogs who came out hot to start the game. TCU went on a 6-0 run to open the scoring, and No. 7 / 6 SDSU (23-1, 8-1 MWC) didn’t take its first lead until the 12:33 mark of the first half.

It wasn’t just a lack of energy that plagued the Aztecs in the first period, however. Starting sophomore shooting guard Chase

Tapley and key reserve junior forward Tim Shelton both went down with injuries early in the game.

The two did not return to the court.

“We definitely didn’t play our best basketball tonight, but we do have depth,” Gay said. “It’s still hard to come in and replace guys like Chase Tapley. We do have players that can fill and do great things for this team. This is just adversity.”

Up by only two points in the closing seconds of the half, the Aztecs got a much-needed burst of energy.

Gay had his shot blocked out of bounds by TCU guard Hank Thorns, and the officials originally gave the Horned Frogs the ball with .4 seconds left. TCU missed the final shot of the half and ran into the locker room. SDSU head coach Steve Fisher, however, was convinced he saw official Jimmy Casas signal that the ball hit off of a Horned Frog, and frantically ran out onto the court to talk to the refs. TCU then came back onto the court and gave the Aztecs the ball with .4 seconds on the clock.

Gay floated a pass up to sophomore forward Kawhi Leonard, who calmly grabbed the ball and put it in for a 28-24 halftime SDSU lead, giving the team some momentum heading into the locker room and the fans something to finally get excited about.

The four-point lead was all the Aztecs needed to stay ahead for the rest of the second half.

Senior forward  Billy White had 15 of his game-high 19 points in the second half, and SDSU overcame a spirited performance by the Horned Frogs’ Thorns (16 points) to notch its 23rd victory, which is tied with No. 1 Ohio State for tops in the nation.

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