Texas Tech basketball: Red Raiders grind out win over Grambling

Any team featuring seven transfers is going to take time to gel.  Thus, the fact that the Texas Tech basketball team looked less than sharp for long stretches of Friday night’s 88-62 win over Grambling is no shock.

Sure, a 26-point victory is never anything to turn your nose up at.  But there were plenty of rough spots in the Red Raiders’ performance that will need to be ironed out.

First of all, the Red Raiders committed 13 turnovers, nine in the second half.  Also, they shot just 10-30 from the 3-point line on a night when Grambling’s 2-3 zone caused the Tech offense to struggle for prolonged periods.

However, credit must be given to Mark Adams’ team for doing the dirty work that was needed to put the Tigers away.  Shooting 22-29 from the free-throw line, Tech was able to keep the underdog visitors at bay while 18 offensive rebounds led to 21 second-chance points as Tech physically overwhelmed their smaller foe.

Leading the way was the team’s point guard, Kevin McCullar Jr.  With a career-high 24 points to go along with nine rebounds and three assists, the San Antonio native continued to be more aggressive than we’ve ever seen him on the offensive end.  In fact, he led the team with 18 field goal attempts, of which he made nine.

Davion Warren was also impactful with 19 points while Bryson Williams added 16 to the winning cause.  In all, the Red Raiders saw seven players put the ball in the bucket on a night when Adams shrunk his playing rotation significantly when compared to Tuesday’s season opener against North Florida.

Only seven Red Raiders logged double-digit minutes on Friday.  That was in stark contrast to game one when nine players saw at least ten minutes of playing time while two more came within a minute of that mark.

But while his team was far from perfect, Adams seemed pleased with the progress his team made against the Tigers.

“I thought we made some steps forward from our last game,” Texas Tech coach Mark Adams said. “That’s what you want to try to prove every game out. I thought our defense was a little bit better. We forced some turnovers and were able to score off our defense late in the second half. I thought our rebounding game was consistent, that made some huge strides.”

Still, this team continues to look rather disjointed at times as it tries to figure out how to play as a cohesive unit while mixing so many new faces with a new coaching staff.

“The chemistry is definitely coming along,” McCullar said. “We’re playing with a whole new team in a way. I think we’re heading in the right direction.”

But there remains work to be done, especially on the defensive end of the court.  On Friday, Tech allowed Grambling’s Danya Kingsby to go for 22 points on 7-9 shooting and 3-4 from beyond the arc.  Also, the Tigers were allowed to shoot 9-19 (47.3%) from beyond the arc, a stat that kept them competitive well into the second half of this contest.

Still, it is great to iron out the kinks while securing a 26-point win in which you never trailed as was the case for Tech in this game.  Adams’ team now has a quick turnaround as they face Prairie View A&M on Monday night in Lubbock as this season’s task of melding together so much new talent continues the early stages of being accomplished.