TCU hands Lobo men 2nd straight road loss

A.J. Hardeman: Game-high 15 points vs. TCU

The No. 18/21 UNM men's basketball team finished its final road swing with what a second half that head coach Stave Alford said was played as poorly as his team had played all year, falling to host Texas Christian 83-64 at TCU's Daniel-Meyer Coliseum in Ft. Worth, Texas Saturday night. The Horned Frogs broke a halftime tie with runs of 10-0 and 15-4 in the second half to secure the win.

New Mexico (22-6, 8-4 Mountain West Conference) suffered its worst loss of the season as TCU's defense harassed the Lobos into 16 turnovers and kept UNM cold shooting from behind the three-point line, hitting just 4-of-17 (23.5%).

The Lobos allowed a season-high 83 points and the Frogs made 11 treys, tying for the most against the Lobos this season. After shooting 51.7% (15-29) in the 1st half and making 2 of their first 3 shots to start the 2nd half, UNM finished the game at 41.8% (23-of-55), shooting just 6-of-23 (26%) from the field the final 18 minutes of the game.

"It was a tough road trip," said Alford on the post-game show on 770AM KKOB. "Tonight, in the second half in particular, we were very poor defensively. Our guys are frustrated. We're (coaches) frustrated. We have to get home."

"There are reasons that Colorado State and TCU haven't been beaten on their home courts this year," Alford continued "I thought TCU played extremely well and shot the ball extremely well. I didn't like how we guarded."

The Lobos were paced by A.J. Hardeman's 15 points while Kendall Williams came off the bench to add 13 points. Drew Gordon scored seven points and pulled down 12 rebounds. TCU (17-11, 7-5) finished with five players in double figures, paced by J.R. Cadot, who scored 15 points and pulled down 10 rebounds, and Hank Thorns, who scored 14 points and had nine assists.

Running with a revamped starting line-up that included guards Jamal Fenton and Phillip McDonald in place of Hugh Greenwood and Kendall Williams, the Lobos had a slow start, falling behind 13-4 early before rallying to cut the lead to 13-10 on a fast break lay up by Williams with 12:16 left in the half.

The Lobos took the lead off a pair of dunks by A.J. Hardeman and Drew Gordon to assume a 23-20 lead at the 7:13 mark. TCU would battle back to take back the lead on a trey by Garlon Green to make the score 30-28 with 5:13 left. The two teams would keep it close the rest of the first half and went into halftime tied 38-38 after a lay up by Greenwood at the buzzer.

The two teams came out even in the second half. UNM pulled to 48-48 tie on a pair of free throws by Hardeman, then TCU went on a 10-0 run to take a 58-48 lead with just over 10 minutes left in the game.

The Horned Frogs soon pushed the lead to 13 but UNM rallied, cutting the 68-60 on a Tony Snell trey with 4:01 left in the game. But TCU closed the game on a 15-4 run.

"I thought they did a really good job with their pressure and we didn't handle it well," said Alford. "They scored a lot on transition play and they do that a lot in this building. We played about as poorly in the second half as we have played all year. But our league is hard. We've been trying to tell people that."

With the loss, UNM falls into a first place tie with UNLV at 8-4 with two games remaining. Like the Rebels, San Diego St. entered the day a game behind the Lobos in league standings. With a win against visiting Colorado St., the Aztecs could also enter into a tie with UNM.

The Lobos host Air Force on Wednesday and Boise St. on Saturday. Both games are at The Pit.

"We have two games left at home and we're in first place," said Alford. "It's not the end of the world. We have to get past it. If we hold serve at home, we are going to be league champs."

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