FORT WORTH (AP) – TCU made another big second-half comeback against a Top 25 team.
With one more rebound, the Horned Frogs might have been able to keep No. 21 San Diego State from sharing the Mountain West Conference regular-season title and made it three wins in a row against ranked teams at home.
Tim Shelton grabbed an offensive rebound and converted it into a tying, three-point play for the Aztecs with 21 seconds left in regulation Saturday night. SDSU went on to a 98-92 overtime victory.
“We had our chances to win the game,” TCU coach Jim Christian said. “We just have to get that rebound. If we get that rebound, the game is probably over right there.”
After TCU (17-13, 7-7 MWC) had come back from an 18-point deficit in the second half to take the lead, Jamaal Franklin was leaning into a Horned Frogs defender trying to draw a foul while shooting a 3-pointer. The shot was short and there wasn’t a whistle — not until Shelton grabbed the rebound and scored on a putback.
“We wouldn’t be able to go into overtime if it wasn’t for Tim getting that rebound and making that big free throw,” said Franklin, who had a career-high 35 points, including the go-ahead three-point play in overtime.
The Aztecs (24-6, 10-4) finally went ahead to stay when Franklin made a driving layup while being fouled with 3:34 left in overtime and added a free throw for an 88-85 lead. After a TCU miss, Xavier Thames added another layup for San Diego State.
TCU had won eight straight home games, the last two over Top 25 teams UNLV and New Mexico.
“We brought things back, we just couldn’t pull it off,” TCU forward Craig Williams said.
Just as they had 2½ weeks ago in their win over then-No. 11 UNLV, the Frogs stormed back from an 18-point deficit in the final 15 minutes to get into overtime. They won that game 102-97 for their first win over a ranked team in five years, and backed that up with the big victory New Mexico.
San Diego State earned a share of its second consecutive Mountain West regular-season title with New Mexico (24-6, 10-4), which beat Boise State at home earlier Saturday.
But the Aztecs, the two-time defending tournament champion, will be the No. 1 seed in next week’s conference tournament in Las Vegas. They own the tiebreaker by virtue of their season sweep of TCU, which a week earlier beat the then-No. 18 Lobos 83-64.
Hank Thorns scored 25 points in his last home game for the Horned Frogs. J.R. Cadot had a career-high 24, including 14 in a 32-14 run over a 10-minute stretch in the second half when TCU tied the game at 77.
San Diego State led 63-45 after James Rahon had a steal that turned into a fast-break layup by Chase Tapley with 15:21 left in regulation.
“They were getting anything they wanted. We tried to adjust in the second half,” Cadot said. “We turned it around and went out fighting.”
TCU got even at 77 when Connell Crossland made two free throws with 5:40 left.
The Frogs took their first lead since 6½ minutes before halftime when Thorns hit a 3-pointer from right wing to make it 83-80 with 1:46 left.
“They fought back like they’ve done all year long and pecked away,” Christian said.
After Shelton’s three-point play tied the game at 83, TCU had one more chance in regulation. But Thorns missed on a drive when his bank shot ricocheted off the rim and Shelton came down with the rebound.
“We’re good at moving on,” Cadot said. “We know we’re a good team. We don’t let losses like this get to us. We have a lot of basketball left.”
Franklin also grabbed 13 rebounds for his 11th double-double in the last 16 games. Tapley added 18 points for the Aztecs, who have won 14 of their last 15 overtime games.
A buzzer-beating layup by DeShawn Stephens at the end of the first half put San Diego State up 46-34. That capped a 10-2 run over the final 2:01 of the first half, and the Aztecs added to that with two baskets in the first 44 seconds after halftime.
“This was a tough game, and a hard-fought game. I knew, our coaches knew, I’m not sure our players knew,” Aztecs coach Steve Fisher said. “When we hit the first two baskets in the second half and we were up 16, they took a timeout. They weren’t going to go away. I’ve watched enough.”
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