Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Sunday, Jan. 9, 2011 | 2:10 a.m.
Las Vegas Sun reporters Ryan Greene and Ray Brewer break down the UNLV basketball team's big victory against TCU and look ahead to the Rebels' showdown next week at No. 6 San Diego State. Plus, a look at the newest Rebel - Marquette transfer Reggie Smith.
This wasn’t the homecoming Hank Thorns envisioned.
Thorns, a former Valley High basketball standout, returned to Southern Nevada Saturday with TCU but was limited to nine points and five assists against host UNLV in an 83-49 blowout defeat.
The 5-foot-9 junior point guard always imagined his debut at the Thomas & Mack Center would include plenty of highlight-reel plays, filling up the stats sheet and leading his team to victory.
Instead, the Horned Frogs surrendered a 24-0 run early in the first half and played one of their worst games of the year.
“My family was here, so I enjoyed it,” Thorns said. “But I’m embarrassed. That’s all I can say. I’m embarrassed. I didn’t come home for that. I didn’t deliver like I should have delivered. I felt like I played good overall, but this is a team game.”
And, as a team, TCU was out of sync all night. It committed 23 turnovers, only shot 31 percent and appeared to be going through the motions most of the night.
TCU committed 12 turnovers in the game’s initial 13 minutes, including Thorns being called for a charge while driving to the basket. For the night, he had four turnovers and no steals. TCU only had one steal and one block.
Following the game, coach Jim Christian closed the locker room for nearly 20 minutes talking to his players. The performance was simply unacceptable.
“That has been our problem all year,” Thorns said. “When we get down a little bit, it seems like a couple of our guys give up. Every guy is born with a heart, but some of these guys need to get a heart of a warrior.
“I have never been a loser,” he continued. “You go back to my middle school days and elementary days, and I never been a loser. So, I’m taking this personal.”
Thorns, who is averaging 9.3 point and 5.4 assists per game, has been a mainstay in the backcourt for TCU after transferring from Virginia Tech. He’s helped the Horned Frogs (9-8 overall, 0-2 Mountain West) to a small improvements this winter, stepping into a leadership role to give them in leading the league in assists.
Despite the poor effort against UNLV, he feels they are a bounce or two away from changing their season around. He’s carrying the burden of the failures on his shoulders.
“I am fighting through it. I’m hanging in there,” Thorns said. “I love my teammates, and we are going to get through this together. I have to become a better leader. I have to find that leadership I used to have. For a certain reason, I can’t seem to get these guys to follow me.”
Thorns attended countless games at the Thomas & Mack during his childhood. He’ll be back in March for the conference tournament, obviously looking for a better result.
“It is great to play here,” he said. “I can’t (tell you) how happy I was to get out there. …We are a good team, but this is our first year together. We’ll get through it. We’ll bounce back. We just need to get that one win and I think we’ll get rolling.”