CNHI News Services
With Travis Ford preaching this week that his Oklahoma State squad needed to get everybody more involved offensively, the Cowboys had five players score in double digits and rallied for a 78-76 victory over Iowa State.
Point guard Marcus Smart led the Cowboys in every sense of the word.
The freshman from Flower Mound, Texas, hit a pair of buzzer beaters to score a game-high 21 points to lift OSU to the victory. Smart also had a game-high 7 assists, 4 steals and 6 rebounds.
“I think he’s one of the best players in the country,” Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg said of Smart. “He’s just a winner. He makes big plays when they matter most. He does everything for them. That kid’s a stud.”
Smart gave Oklahoma State (14-5, 4-3 in Big 12 Conference) the victory when he drove the lane and banked in a shot with 3.1 seconds left in the game — which took 10 minutes to complete.
“We wanted to take the last shot and we wanted to get to the rim, period,” Ford said. “We ran a play to set a couple screens for him and let him go, and told him to go at about 7 seconds. I said, ‘Get to the rim. If somebody helps, you can kick it out, I don’t mind. But don’t settle for a 3-pointer. Get to the rim.’ And he made a nice, physical play.”
Smart’s first buzzer beater came at the end of the first half when he banked in a half-court shot that cut Iowa State’s lead to just 41-37 at the break.
“I practice that shot every day. Right when we walk into the gym I just throw up the shot. My first shot is from half court and I’ve made it about five times,” Smart said. “I didn’t call (the bank), but I wasn’t really expecting it to go in. I was just trying to draw the foul.”
The Cowboys got double digits from each of the five players to play more than six minutes in the game.
Le’Bryan Nash, who played 37 minutes, kept the Cowboys alive in the first half by scoring 14 of his 18 points after scoring just 2 points against West Virginia. Phil Forte carried over his breakout performance against the Mountaineers with a 17-point performance — going 3 for 8 from 3-point range — as he played 34 minutes due to the smaller matchup against the Cyclones.
Forte also came up big on defense, tying Smart for the most steals in the contest. His biggest came late in the game with the Cowboys trailing, including one with 1:24 to play when the 5-foot-11 Forte stripped 6-foot-7 forward Georges Niang under the OSU basket and forced a foul — knocking down both free throws to cut Iowa State’s lead to one.
“He made some big defensive plays,” Ford said. “We had 9 steals, but he had two huge steals late. ... We’ve had some teams make some big plays late on us this year where we came up on the short end, I thought tonight we were on the positive end of that stick and made some plays.”
Oklahoma State also got 10 points from forward Michael Cobbins, who played the five spot for much of the game with Philip Jurick on the sideline due to Iowa State’s smaller lineup. Markel Brown cracked the double digit scoring list with his 12 points — 10 of which came in the second half — and led OSU with 8 rebounds.
Oklahoma State will now turn its focus to the Big 12 Conference’s top team — second-ranked Kansas, who is undefeated in league play. The Cowboys will head to Lawrence, Kan., for a 3 p.m. tipoff Saturday.
“We understand the challenge at hand and have got a lot of respect for Kansas, obviously,” Ford said. “I’m glad we won tonight.”