Texas Tech basketball: Takeaways from an easy victory over Prairie View

Sometimes, it matters most when you play an opponent.  That was certainly the case on Monday night when the Texas Tech basketball team squared off with a Prairie View A&M team that was playing its third game in its third different city in three days.

On a different night, the Panthers might have been able to give Tech a better test.  After all, they were picked to finish second in their conference and they are the defending SWAC champions.

But in this contest, they simply could not muster the energy to truly threaten the Red Raiders as Tech jumped out to a 45-23 halftime lead and coasted the rest of the way to an 84-49 win.  There will be other, more intriguing tests for this program in a matter of just a couple of weeks but for now, three games against three cupcake opponents is all we have to go on.  So with that in mind, let’s look at some takeaways from the latest Red Raider route.

Tech dodged an injury bullet

Perhaps the biggest development on the night was the close call concerning Kevin McCullar Jr. and his ankle.  In the first half, the junior guard was standing near a loose ball when his teammate, Marcus Santos-Silva, who was already on the floor fighting for the ball, rolled up on McCullar’s ankle.

Initially, it was obvious that McCullar was in quite a bit of pain and Texas Tech basketball fans had to fear the worst.  But eventually, the guard would return to the game, though for the rest of the night, he would favor his tender ankle.

It appears that Tech has dodged this bullet.  But think about how disastrous it would have been had this turned out to be a more serious situation.

Tech is already without Terrence Shannon Jr. for who knows how long as he waits for eligibility clearance.  Thus, had this turned out to be a pesky high ankle sprain, it would have been conceivable that both McCullar and Shannon would miss upcoming games against Providence and Tennessee in the first week of December.

McCullar would finish the game with 12 points, seven rebounds, three assists, and three steals as he turned in another solid effort as this team’s pseudo point guard.  But for a moment, it looked like his night might be cut short.  Thankfully, it was not.

Williams continues to dominate

UTEP transfer Bryson Williams has been the Texas Tech basketball team’s best player thus far and on Monday night, that did not change.  Leading the team with 18 points, he also tied McCullar for the team lead with seven boards.

For the year, Williams is shooting a ridiculous 73.3% from the floor while averaging 18.7 points per game.  Now, the question that remains to be seen is whether he can put up those numbers against major conference opponents.

Of course, everyone points to his 23-point,13-rebound showing at Kansas last season as UTEP nearly walked out of Allen Fieldhouse with a win.  That game proved that he can compete against elite competition.

But can he carry a team through the rigors of Big 12 play on a nightly basis?  That’s what we will soon find out.

Tech is about to start facing some teams like Providence, Tennessee, and Gonzaga that will have the size and talent in the post that the three teams Tech has faced thus far simply haven’t had.  Plus, it only seems natural that teams will start to gameplan to limit him and put him in situations where he isn’t getting almost all of his production at the rim.  When that happens, can his mid-range and outside jump shot prove to be a weapon?  That will be one of the keys to the season for the Red Raiders.

Warren stays hot from 3-point range

Monday night, guard Davion Warren was strong with 15 points on 6-10 shooting.  And what was most encouraging to see was the fact that he was 3-5 from beyond the 3-point line.

That shooting performance from deep came a game after he was 2-3 from downtown against Grambling.  Therefore, Warren is now shooting 55.6% from 3-point range on the season.

That’s not a number that anyone expects him to keep up given that he’s just a career 33.3% long-range marksman.  But what if Warren has improved significantly as an outside shooter to the point that he can hit at a rate near 40%?  That would do wonders for a Tech team that simply doesn’t have too many great outside shooters.

Kevin Obanor, the transfer from Oral Roberts, is a terrific 3-point weapon as he is shooting 44.4% from deep on the season.  But he and Warren are the only two Red Raiders averaging over one made three per contest this year.  Thus, Tech will need both to stay hot and be consistent threats from outside.