LOS ANGELES (AP) — After dominating the first 30 minutes, TCU cooled off and Nevada came on strong.
The 20th-ranked Horned Frogs still had enough left to hang on for an 84-80 victory Friday night in the Hall of Fame Basketball Classic, extending the nation’s best winning streak to 15 games.
TCU (10-0) never trailed while playing the last game of a tripleheader in front of a sparse, late-night crowd at Staples Center. Jaylen Fisher scored 20 points, and Kenrich Williams added 16 points and 11 rebounds for his 11th double-double during the streak.
“I was just trying to feed off my teammates, let them give me open shots and let their drive feed my drive,” Fisher said.
The Horned Frogs are off to their best start since going 13-0 in 2014-15.
“We’ve gotten better the last two weeks,” coach Jamie Dixon said. “We’ve really adapted and done some things better. We can be really good. Our offensive numbers are about as good as they can be. Defensively, we’re getting better.”
“The energy, effort and enthusiasm was too late,” Nevada coach Eric Musselman said. “We didn’t defend like I thought we would.”
Kendall Stephens hit a 3-pointer to leave Nevada trailing 83-80 with eight seconds left.
Fisher got fouled and made one free throw. Then he stole the ball from Cody Martin as time expired.
“I still think we’re a really, really, really good team,” Cody Martin said. “We just came out a little lackadaisical.”
Nevada closed within eight points early in the second half before TCU went on a 19-10 run, extending its lead to 67-50. The Horned Frogs got three 3-pointers, two from Fisher, during the spurt. He also made two free throws.
From there, the Wolf Pack cut their deficit to 72-67 thanks to the Martin twins. They anchored a 17-5 run, going 6 of 6 from the free throw line.
“We were playing behind the whole game,” Caroline said. “We didn’t have the energy we needed to.”
Williams hit a 3 that pushed TCU’s lead to 79-69 before Nevada chipped away at it.
“We got a great win out of it on a neutral court,” Dixon said. “Those kind of wins are hard to come by.”
Caroline’s 3-month-old son, J.C., watched the game wearing a Nevada bib and then got his diaper changed on the seat afterward.
The game was a homecoming for Dixon, who was born in Burbank and whose parents still live in his childhood home in North Hollywood. It was his first time as a head coach in Los Angeles. He had several high school friends on hand, along with his sister.
After setting a school record with an 8-0 start, Nevada has lost two in a row, both to Big 12 schools away from home. The first defeat was in overtime.
TCU has defeated four straight opponents as a ranked team for the first time since winning five in a row during the 1997-98 season.
Nevada: Hosts Radford in the opening round of the Las Vegas Classic on Dec. 17.
TCU: Hosts Texas Southern on Monday in the first of three straight home games.