Texas Tech Red Raiders that must step up against NC State

These three Red Raiders have to lead the way for the Texas Tech basketball team to beat NC State on Thursday night.

Texas v Texas Tech
Texas v Texas Tech / John E. Moore III/GettyImages
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Texas Tech guard Joe Toussaint must make the most of his last chance

Joe Toussaint came to Texas Tech from West Virginia to get one last shot at playing in the NCAA Tournament. That's what he's earned this season, and now, he's got to make the most of this opportunity.

Pop Isaacs has been playing well in recent weeks. However, Toussaint has been a hit-or-miss proposition from game to game.

In each of the last two games of the regular season, Toussaint had only eight points. Then he had 10 points in each game of the Big 12 Tournament.

However, he does have 10 games with 15 or more points this year. That includes a run of five straight such games in late November and early December.

That's what Tech needs out of Toussaint tonight and throughout this tournament. Isaacs will be the focal point of opposing defenses meaning Toussaint has to do his part to help the Red Raiders avoid prolonged scoring droughts.

Also, there will be times when he has to hit clutch shots as he did against BYU in the Big 12 Tournament when he ended a 15-0 Cougar run by drilling a 3-pointer from the top of the key to keep the Red Raiders' multiple-possession lead intact.

Don't overlook the importance of his defense, as well. As Tech's best defensive guard, he's got to prove capable of being able to slow NC State's lead guard, DJ Horne, who averages almost 17 points per game.

Toussaint has been as advertised this season and then some. His toughness has defined this team and his leadership has carried the Red Raiders all season. Now, his productivity and defense must go to another level as the super-senior makes his final trip to the NCAA Tournament.