Texas Tech basketball: T.J. Holyfield leads demolition of Oklahoma State

T.J. Holyfield had 17 points in his best game since early November as the Texas Tech basketball team destroyed Oklahoma State 85-50 Saturday in Lubbock.

After scoring at least 15 points in each of his first three games as a Red Raider, grad transfer T.J. Holyfield had only gotten to ten points only one time since.  That changed in a big way Saturday when the Texas Tech basketball team opened Big 12 play with a dominating 85-50 victory over Oklahoma State in Lubbock.

The 6-foot-8 forward came out of the locker room aggressive and on point as he drilled two of his three attempts from behind the line for 11 points in the opening twenty minutes of play.  He finished the game shooting 7-10 from the floor in his best showing in nearly two months.

“The coaches got us ready to play, all of us as a team, and I had a game plan going in and I just tried to follow it the best I could,” said Holyfield, who also had seven rebounds.  “You just have to trust the process, through the good and the bad. The outcome is, you should be getting what you want if you put in the time off the court, on the court, behind all these doors. It doesn’t really matter about the outcome, the process should stay the same.

After a first half that saw the lead change hands eight times, Tech used a 10-0 run to break open a game that was knotted at 26-all with six minutes to play in the half.   Though the Cowboys would cut the lead to six points before the intermission, they would never threaten the No. 22 Red Raiders again.

That’s because, in the second half, Chris Beard’s team found a second gear that Oklahoma State couldn’t match.  After OSU began the second with a bucket, Tech rattled off a 15-0 run to push the lead to 51-32 and the beat down was on inside the U.S.A.

Kyler Edwards began that run with a layup and Jahmi’us Ramsey added a 3-pointer to push the lead to eight points.  Ramsey had a team-high 18 points including 4-7 shooting from deep.  For the year, the true freshman is shooting 46.7% from behind the arc, which was the area of his game that was supposed to need the most work according to scouts that saw him in high school.  Apparently, he’s been putting in plenty of time to improve in that regard and the results have been phenomenal.

Holyfield would then continue the onslaught with a layup before Davide Moretti and Ramsey hit back-to-back 3s to force an OSU timeout. After that stoppage, Ramsey would finish the run with two free throws to put his team ahead by 19 points.

The 35-point win was the largest Big 12 victory in Red Raider history.  It was also an emphatic statement to the rest of the league that despite losing six players from last year’s regular rotation, Beard’s program is not going away.

“We were staying locked in, making sure we stick to the game plan and like TJ said, making stops,” Ramsey said.  “It was really big, keep the crowd engaged, our teammates found us and put us in scoring position. I feel like we all just fed off the crowd’s energy, it was there all night, we kept it going”

In his Big 12 debut, the highest-rated high school recruit to ever suit up for the Red Raiders stuffed the stat sheet.  He pulled down four rebounds, blocked two shots, came up with a pair of steals and handed out an assist.

But he wasn’t the only player representing the Double-T to do a little bit of everything on Saturday.  Moretti had 13 points, five assists, and two steals in 32:26 of action while freshman Terrence Shannon Jr. also had 13 points to go along with five rebounds and a steal before fouling out late.

Meanwhile, the Cowboys’ best player didn’t have an afternoon he’d like to remember.  Sophomore guard Isaac Likekele came into the game averaging 13.1 points per game to lead his team but Saturday, he managed just two points on 1-6 shooting to go with two assists and two rebounds.

In fact, only one Cowboy, Lindy Waters III reached double-digits on an afternoon when the visitors shot 15-52 (28.8) from the field.  The senior who had 26 points on 9-18 shooting last year in Lubbock was just 5-12 Saturday and 3-7 from deep.

As a team, OSU was only 9-27 (33%) from outside, which played right into the Red Raiders’ hands.  Not afraid of OSU’s overall game from outside, Tech was able to clamp down on Likekele and when the Cowboys’ catalyst was unable to get untracked, his team was helpless.

Next: Texas Tech basketball all-decade power forwards

Tech has little time to revel in this win because Tuesday night, the No. 6 Baylor Bears come to Lubbock for a critical early-season Big 12 showdown between the teams picked to finish second and third in the preseason conference poll.  They way they played Saturday, the Red Raiders look ready to take on any team in the league despite that fact that eight of the eleven players who saw the court were getting their first taste of Big 12 basketball.  Chris Beard doesn’t rebuild.  He reloads.