FORT WORTH (AP) – Larry Brown is already figuring how much he forgot after 25 years away from the college game.
Brown is being reminded of the differences from the NBA in how many timeouts are available, when substitutions can be made and having to coach his defense from the opposite end of the floor after halftime.
Regardless, SMU is 2-0 under the Hall of Fame coach after a 64-61 win at TCU on Thursday night, a game overshadowed by a likely season-ending knee injury to Amric Fields, one of the Horned Frogs’ best players.
“It made me sick to my stomach seeing that, great player like that, big part of this program,” Brown said. “We were very fortunate we won the game. I don’t think the outcome would have been quite the same if he played.”
Only 12 seconds into the game, Fields had just taken a pass near the basket when his right knee buckled awkwardly. He immediately fell to the floor in front of Brown and the SMU bench.
Fields was tended to for several minutes before being helped off the court and to the locker room without putting any weight on his right leg. SMU then scored the first five points and never trailed.
Asked if the injury was as bad as it appeared, first-year TCU coach Trent Johnson responded, “Yeah,” adding that it wasn’t like Fields to just stay on the floor. He then paused before continuing his statement.
“Without hearing the doctor’s report, I’ve got to believe he’s done,” Johnson said.
After being the Mountain West Conference’s top sixth man last season, Fields was a starter under Johnson in TCU’s first Big 12 season. He averaged 11 points the first two games.
While Johnson was never specific about the exact injury, he compared it to the season-ending torn ACL that 6-foot-10 freshman center Aaron Durley sustained the first week of practice.
“Durley has an ACL injury, goes down after a day off, no contact,” Johnson said. “Amric cuts across the floor, shuffle cut, no contact, and he goes down. You’re talking about two great kids. Yeah, they’d have a huge impact on this team. … It’s bad. It’s bad.”
After Fields got hurt, the Mustangs went out to a 16-6 lead on a 3-pointer by Jalen Jones.
Jones scored 21 points, including four 3-pointers. Ryan Manuel added 16 points and Nick Russell 12 for the Mustangs, who held on despite missing five free throws in the last 15 seconds.
Brown, the only coach to win both an NBA and an NCAA title, coached his first college game in a quarter-century when SMU won its season opener 73-58 over Loyola Marymount on Sunday.
“I love it,” Brown said. “I love the people involved in the game, and I love being part of it.”
Garlon Green had 20 points and nine rebounds to lead TCU, while Jarvis Ray scored 14 points.
Russell’s layup with 12 1/2 minutes left made it 49-38, and the Mustangs didn’t score again until he added a fast-break layup 5 minutes later. TCU scored seven points in a row in that span, including consecutive jumpers by Green before a three-point play by Adrick McKinney.
Down by 10 only 7 1/2 minutes into the game, the Horned Frogs got back within 25-24 on Green’s strong, quick flying move through the right side of the lane for a tip-in with 2 1/2 minutes left in the first half.
TCU and SMU played for the 188th time in a series that dates back to the 1918-19 season. Former rivals in the Southwest Conference and the Western Athletic Conference, the teams have played at least once a year in all but one season since 1921. The Mustangs lead the series 103-85.
SMU is moving from Conference USA to the Big East next season.
“Win on the road against a Big 12 team that’s well coached, it’s a huge step for us,” Brown said. “This is going to be a huge rivalry. (Johnson) is going to do it the right way. I only want to play him once, and wish it was in the NCAA tournament.”
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