Big 12 Men’s Basketball Tournament BYU vs. Texas Tech Preview

247Sports Writer Believes Texas Tech Will 'Make a Splash' in March Madness

Here is everything you need to know about BYU and Texas Tech in our Cougars vs. Red Raiders Big 12 Tournament men’s basketball quarterfinal preview.

Game 7: No. 5 BYU (23-9) vs. No. 4 Texas Tech (22-9, 11-7)

Time, TV: 11:30 a.m. CT Thursday, ESPN2

Location: T-Mobile Center, Kansas City, MO

Season series (Texas Tech 1-0): Texas Tech def. BYU, 85-78 (at Lubbock, Texas)

 

Winner: Advances to the Big 12 semifinals on Thursday at 6 p.m. vs. the winner of Game 8.

Here is the full Big 12 men’s tournament schedule and results.

Projected starting lineups

BYU: F Noah Waterman, C Aly Khalifa, G Dallin Hall, G Spencer Johnson, G Trevin Knell

Texas Tech: F Robert Jennings, G Darrion Williams, G Pop Isaacs, G Kerwin Walton, G Joe Toussaint.

Players to watch

BYU

G Richie Saunders

Some of BYU’s best players come off the bench, if we’re being honest. Saunders is one of them, as he’s averaged 9.6 points and 4.1 rebounds per game. But when he goes off, he’s a value add to a team that loves to fill the basket. Ask Iowa State. Last week in Ames he dropped 20 points on them in 26 minutes off the bench. He’s in the midst of the kind of run he had in January, when he hit double figures in four out of five games from Jan. 16 to Feb. 3. Other Cougars shoot a better percentage, but few can get as red-hot as Sanders at the drop of a hat. He dropped in another 13 points against UCF in the second round.

Texas Tech

G Darrion Williams

Pop Isaacs gets much of the attention, and it’s warranted. But forget about Williams at your own peril. He was a third-team All-Big 12 selection by both the Associated Press and by Heartland College Sports. He’s a quality defender but his best asset is his 3-point shooting and it’s changed Tech’s offense under Grant McCasland. Williams is a 47.1% 3-point shooter and when he gets hot there isn’t a contest he can’t shoot over. He averaged 11.6 points and 7.6 rebounds this season but blocking him out on the perimeter is key.

 

Key storylines

BYU

BYU was nearly as ready for the Big 12 as Houston was. The biggest difference was Houston had reached a recent Final Four (2021). BYU was a ranked team two years ago and upon joining the Big 12 the Cougars matched the game-to-game intensity level and found themselves not only in the AP Top 25 but maintaining that ranking most of the conference season. BYU got home wins against Iowa State, Texas and Baylor. But its signature win of the season was its recent road win at Kansas. The Cougars are built around the 3-point line and can be streaky. But with both big men, Aly Khalifa and Fousseyni Traore, healthy and humming, the Cougars can run back-door cutting action, too. When the Cougars can shoot and cut successfully, good luck.

Texas Tech

The rocky end to the tenure of Mark Adams gave way to the beginning of the Grant McCasland era. A branch off the Scott Drew coaching tree, he took over the Red Raiders fresh off taking UNC to the NIT crown and assembled a team that had some questions on paper going into the season. The Red Raiders answered those questions with a 5-1 start to Big 12 play and a peek into the AP Top 25. Texas Tech’s strength is its balance. They aren’t top-heavy at any position and they several players versatile enough to swing into multiple positions. It makes them hard to defend, and it makes it easier for them to defend other teams. But if you don’t account for guard Pop Isaacs, an All-Big 12 First Team performer at Heartland College Sports, you clearly didn’t watch enough film.

Prediction

BYU 81, Texas Tech 76. BYU looked like it was in a great rhythm on Wednesday the neutral site should neutralize some of the homecourt advantage Texas Tech had in January. BYU’s 3-point shooting will make the difference.    

You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.