Smart leads Oklahoma State past Texas
STILLWATER, Okla. -- Oklahoma State guard Marcus Smart scuffled so bad in the first half Wednesday night, he airballed a free throw.
Maybe that was his wakeup call, as Smart turned it on, taking over to spur the No. 11-ranked Cowboys' 87-74 win over Texas before an estimated 8,000 at Gallagher-Iba Arena.
Smart sparked a surge late in the first half to rally the Cowboys into the lead, then kept delivering in the second half, finishing off a staggering box score by himself: 24 points, 11 rebounds, five assists, six steals and one blocked shot.
"You look at the stat line," OSU coach Travis Ford. "The stat line is ridiculous."
And needed, especially with the Cowboys still transitioning after losing starting post man Michael Cobbins for the season to a ruptured Achilles tendon.
More and more, OSU figures to need Smart to play like the reigning Big 12 Player of the Year -- and national player of the year candidate -- that he is.
"The last couple of days, we've spent a lot of time together talking about what I expect and what he's capable of doing for this basketball team," Ford said. "I thought he gave an incredible Marcus Smart performance tonight."
OSU improved to 13-2 overall and 1-1 in the Big 12. The Longhorns fell to 11-4 and 0-2.
Cowboys guard Markel Brown scored a game-high 27 points and reserve guard Phil Forte added 14 off the bench.
Texas, which got 12 points each from guards Demarcus Holland and Damarcus Croaker, took advantage of Smart's -- and OSU's -- ragged early play to lead 32-24 with less than five minutes left in the opening half.
But the Cowboys got going, with Forte firing in a pair of 3s and Smart scoring four straight points during a 7-1 spurt to a 38-37 lead at the break.
Longhorns forward Jonathan Holmes scored on a lay-in to open the second half, before OSU went on a 13-2 run to seize a lead they wouldn't surrender.
Holmes finished with 10 points and 12 rebounds before fouling out with 2:50 remaining. Reserve forward Connor Lammert also fouled out, part of the carnage in an early aggressive Cowboys attack that took the ball right at the bigger Longhorns.
OSU was in the 1-and-1 by the 12:18 mark of the first half and totaled 51 foul shots on the night, making 35. Meanwhile, Texas attempted but 23 free throws.
"That's what we thought (they were going to do)," Texas coach Rick Barnes said of the Cowboys' early attacking. "There's nothing different about that. We thought that, so that didn't catch us by surprise at all. We were trying to do the same thing, but we turned it over and didn't execute the way we needed to.
"When you give up 51 free throws, it's hard to overcome."
The Cowboys used an 11-3 run at the end of the first half to lead 38-37 at intermission.
The opening 20 minutes featured spurts. OSU led by seven. Then Texas surged in front by eight, before the Cowboys righted themselves in the final minutes.
A 3-pointer by guard Phil Forte gave OSU energy, pulling the Cowboys closer at 34-31.
Smart scored four points on two free throws and a bucket in the lane, before guard Stevie Clark drilled a long 3 out front.
The late first-half basket by Smart was his first in the game, coming just minutes after his errant foul shot fell short of everything.
"I didn't have my legs under me all the way," Smart said. "I just wasn't feeling it.
"I told myself when I released it, I knew it was an airball. I didn't get on my toes."
In the end, all was good.
"After the fact, we were laughing at him and joking around with him (about the airball)," Brown said. "It did spark him for the rest of the game.
"Maybe we need him to shoot airballs more."
OSU visits West Virginia for 3 p.m. tip on Saturday, while Texas returns home to take on Texas Tech.
NOTES: The Cowboys got a bench boost with the return of backup PG Stevie Clark, who had missed the Big 12 opening loss at Kansas State following an arrest for marijuana possession. OSU is already down a starter, with post player Michael Cobbins out for the season following surgery for a ruptured Achilles tendon. ... Texas G Demarcus Holland entered the game averaging 9.9 points a game, but had his seventh double-digit scoring effort by halftime, with 10 points. ... OSU programs are scoring in the AP polls this season. The football team finished No. 17, while the men's basketball team is No. 11 and the women's team is No. 15.