Texas Tech’s influx of talent following its run to the national championship game in April includes two of the best graduate transfers in the Big 12 — wing Chris Clarke from Virginia Tech and power forward TJ Holyfield from Stephen F. Austin.
Each made an impact on the 13th-ranked Red Raiders in Saturday’s 79-44 win over Bethune-Cookman, and they will look for more Wednesday night against Houston Baptist in a neutral-court game in Midland, Texas.
Holyfield led Texas Tech (2-0) with 20 points, and Clarke had eight rebounds in the win over Bethune-Cookman.
Texas Tech coach Chris Beard, who also has one of the best freshmen in the nation with Jahmi’us Ramsey, said Holyfield and Clarke are showing what he expected when they announced their transfers to his program.
“It’s early, but I’m proud of those guys,” Beard said.
“Starting with Chris, I think he’s doing a great job letting the game come to him. To me, he plays like a pro out there. He’s not chasing baskets or stats, he’s just playing. He’s been a calming influence and is getting a lot of people involved. I think he’s got a chance to be one of the best passers I’ve ever coached.
“Holyfield has had two impressive games in terms of the stat sheet, but equally important is the leadership he’s bringing. (Against Bethune-Cookman) is the first night I got a piece of him a little bit, and I coached him hard. I thought he responded. I told him after the game, ‘I’m enjoying coaching you right now.’ Those two seniors are off to great starts for us. We’re not 2-0 without those guys.”
Holyfield is averaging 17.5 points a game while shooting 78.9 percent (15 of 19) after the first two games. Clarke is not called upon for his scoring (only four points in the first two games) but he is averaging 5.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game.
Ramsey, a 6-foot-4 guard, averaged 16 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.5 steals in his first two college games.
Houston Baptist (0-2) is led by senior guard Jalon Gates, who scored 25 points while connecting on 6 of 13 shots from 3-point range in the 95-81 loss at Oral Roberts last Friday. Gates has 158 3-pointers in his career, tying him for fourth in program history.
Ian DuBose, a 6-4 junior guard who lost 15 pounds in the offseason to get to 210, is averaging 14.5 points and 7.5 rebounds after the first two games. He had 20 points and 10 rebounds in Houston Baptist’s 80-72 loss at Tulsa last week in the season opener.
“(Dubose) can handle the ball against pressure, he can get to the rim and finish. He can shoot from the perimeter,” said Houston Baptist coach Ron Cottrell.
Cottrell is the sixth-longest tenured coach among active NCAA Division I coaches, in his 28th season with a record of 475-391.
–Field Level Media