Darrion Williams expects to play in Texas Tech basketball’s NCAA Tournament opener vs. NC State

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PITTSBURGH — It didn’t take long for the question to come up.

Darrion Williams joined Chance McMillian and Kerwin Walton in the athlete media portion of the Texas Tech basketball team’s preparation for its NCAA Tournament opener against NC State. Williams, the youngest of the three players on the dais, fielded the first inquiry, which centered around his ankle.

“I’m expecting to play,” Williams said. “I’m taking it day by day, but I’m expecting to play tomorrow.”

Williams missed the Red Raiders’ loss to Houston in the semifinals of the Big 12 Tournament last week at Kansas City. He sustained the injury in the quarterfinal win over BYU the previous day. Williams returned to help Tech take down the Cougars but was noticeably limited in what he trusted his ankle to be able to do.

Prior to the Houston game, Williams went through the majority of the warmup before it was decided to hold him out as a precaution.

A short while after Williams updated his own status, head coach Grant McCasland was asked about the status of Warren Washington, Tech’s 7-foot starting center who has missed eight of the last nine games. Washington has been dealing with a foot injury he sustained in the Feb. 12 win over Kansas.

Washington gave the foot a test run a few games later, but his effectiveness wasn’t the same. When the Red Raiders take the floor against the Wolfpack on Thursday night, Washington will have played 12 minutes, 34 seconds in a live game in a 38-day span.

“We tried to play him a month or so ago in the UCF game,” McCasland said, “and I felt like he was great in practice, then we got out there and he made one move in the game and you could tell by the look on his face he wasn’t quite ready.”

Washington was involved with Tech’s public practice session in PPG Paints Arena after the press conference — more than Williams was — and appeared fine on the surface, though whether he’ll play against NC State is still to be determined.

“I do think he’ll be a game-time decision,” McCasland said, “and we’ll just have to see how he warms up and see if he’s able to play.”

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