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Horned Frogs get caught in UNLV trap

Many were errors forced by UNLV, and others were self-inflicted wounds. Either way, Texas Christian committed far too many mistakes against the Rebels on Tuesday night.

The Horned Frogs had a season-high 26 turnovers, 17 during the first half, when they gave the game away, and the Rebels pocketed a 71-57 victory that snapped their two-game losing streak.

“We have to be smarter with the basketball,” said TCU coach Jim Christian, whose team has lost five in a row. “We did a bad job handling their pressure in the first half.”

The Rebels (18-6, 6-4 Mountain West) began the game with their own self-destructive streak, committing eight turnovers in less than eight minutes and falling behind, 17-7. But suddenly, UNLV’s trapping defense asserted control and began to hassle TCU (4-6, 13-11) into miscue after miscue.

“We said in the huddle every possession was huge,” UNLV senior Joe Darger said. “Once we got into them, they got a little rattled.”

With the Rebels controlling the tempo, they went on a 23-2 run over a 7:16 span and took a 30-19 lead. The Horned Frogs never recovered, shooting 37 percent from the floor.

“You can’t have 26 turnovers, shoot in the 30s and expect to come in here and win,” Christian said. “You have to give (UNLV) some credit. But we haven’t shot it well lately, and we didn’t shoot well enough to overcome our mistakes.”

UNLV coach Lon Kruger said going to a trapping defense was just the jump-start his team needed after its own lethargic start.

“Our rotation behind the trap was pretty good,” he said. “The defensive pressure got us back in it.”

It also allowed the Rebels to survive their season-high 21 turnovers.

“Twenty-one turnovers is something we’re not proud of,” Darger said. “We’ve got to improve on that.”

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