Texas Tech Leans On Transfers To Reach Big 12 Tourney Semifinals

Heartland College Sports – An Independent Big 12 Today Blog

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Grant McCasland’s biggest challenge at Texas Tech was taking a group of disparate parts and getting them to play together as one.

In that challenge, he felt he had one advantage — all of the transfers he brought in after he took over in April played in the NCAA Tournament last year.

Those players have given his Red Raiders an edge all season and were a difference in their 81-67 quarterfinal win over BYU of the Big 12 Men’s Basketball Tournament at T-Mobile Center on Thursday.

 

“The biggest goal we had coming into this year was how do you get the right people together — and I mean this in sincerity,” McCasland said. “Chance (McMillian) played in the NCAA Tournament last year — all of the transfers played in the NCAA Tournament last year. The grit they came in with was like, ‘We want to get back to the NCAA Tournament.’”

Many of them played big roles in Thursday’s win. McMillian, the Grand Canyon transfer, poured in 17 points off the bench. He got more time after Darrion Williams, a Nevada transfer, tweaked his ankle in the first half, played nearly 28 minutes, and scored seven points. But one of Williams’ 3-pointers did help fend off a late BYU rally.

There was also Joe Toussaint, who played for West Virginia last year, who hit a big 3-pointer down the stretch and finished with 10 points.

 

Warren Washington, who came in from Arizona State with Devan Cambridge, has averaged nearly 10 points this season. But he hasn’t played in a game since Feb. 24 and is day-to-day with a foot injury.

The Red Raiders lost Cambridge in December due to an injury. At the time, he was averaging 10.5 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. He can apply for a medical hardship.

BYU coach Mark Pope was impressed with how Texas Tech has adjusted throughout the season, especially with the injuries to Cambridge and Washington.

 

“It’s been incredible to watch them make an adjustment with the way they play and how they play, losing such a dominant force inside like they have,” Pope said. “They have reinvented themselves in a really spectacular way and I thought they were terrific tonight.”

Texas Tech (23-9) is a lock for the NCAA Tournament, but a run in Kansas City, perhaps to the title game, can help its seeding. As of Thursday, ESPN Bracketology has the Red Raiders as a No. 7 seed.

The way the Red Raiders are playing right now they could be an under-seed for a program coming off a losing season and a coaching change.

You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.