SAN JOSE, Calif. — Marcus Smart's been described as a stat-stuffer.
He scores and rebounds. He hands out assists and harasses for steals.
He defends and leads.
Turns out he's now offering up a new skill: analyst.
Smart's point guard matchup with the Oregon duo of Dominic Artis and Johnathan Loyd dominated the intrigue at Wednesday's media session at HP Pavilion. And the Oklahoma State freshman offered a bold breakdown.
“They're very quick,” Smart said Artis and Loyd, who essentially share the Ducks' point guard post. “That's to their advantage. They're small, agile, very versatile. That's one thing that gives them an edge.
“But I also see that they're not as strong as I am. I'll try to overpower them and use my strength to my advantage.”
To the point, so to speak.
NCAA Tournament focus frequently zeros in on guard play; sometimes too much.
The Ducks, say those in the know, go as their point guards go. And no player nationally may impact his own team as much as Smart, who has guided the Cowboys back into March Madness following a losing season a year ago.
So, who's got the edge?
The talking points are clear.
Quickness vs. strength.
Inside vs. outside; with Smart seeing post-up opportunities and the Ducks intent on stressing him on the perimeter.
One vs. two (or more); as Oregon won't hesitate to offer help, likely in the form of 6-5 two guard Damyean Dotson.
Confident chatter exudes from both sides.
“Defensively for them, it's going to be hard to match up against me because of my size,” Smart said. “My teammates recognize and I recognize it. And it's just a matter of how I'm going to exploit that.”
The Ducks recognize it, too.
“Obviously, he's an unbelievable talent,” said Oregon forward E.J. Singler. “He has great size as a point guard. And I think that's where he's a matchup problem, just on how big he is and how strong he is.”
The size differential is significant. Smart goes 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds, while Artis is 6-1, 185, and Loyd is 5-8, 165.
Still, Singler said, there can be advantages to being small.
“I think Johnny and DA will match up with him good,” Singler said. “I think they can pressure him out on the floor and make him do things he hasn't done all season.”
Smart, at times, has had some turnover issues, with a team-high 106 total in 32 games; although most were a result of his aggressiveness, not sloppiness.
“Johnny and DA are both real competitive young men,” said Oregon coach Dana Altman. “And so they'll battle …
“Johnny is really quick. I think DA is quick.”
Artis, the starter, could be the wild card for Oregon. A freshman who seized the starting job — like Smart — from the season's outset, he was critical in the Ducks' 17-2 start to the season that resulted in a No. 10 national ranking on Jan. 28. Then a stress fracture in his foot sidelined him for five weeks, a period when Oregon stumbled to 5-4 stretch.
Loyd eventually stabilized things and was named Most Outstanding Player at last week's Pac-12 Tournament, won by Oregon. And Artis has since returned, restoring the combo to full strength.
“You've got to prepare for two guys who are going to play a lot of minutes,” said OSU coach Travis Ford. “They're similar in ways, and they're a lot different in ways. But they've got a pretty good combo there in two guys they can turn to.
“It seems like when one's not playing well, the other one steps in and plays extremely well.”
Combined, Artis and Loyd average 13.4 points, 3.7 rebounds and 6.2 assists.
Smart, who doesn't figure to come off the floor much, averages 15.4 points, 5.7 rebounds and 4.2 assists.
So, who's got the edge?
Smart clearly isn't backing down.
And Artis offers a nugget he considers a bonus — previous experience with Smart, during a clash of their two prominent prep programs, perhaps offsetting the shock factor many foes experience in a first-time run-in with Smart's physical style.
“I played against him, Phil Forte and their high school, down at their school,” said Artis, who starred for powerhouse Findlay Prep out of Nevada. “Definitely aware of all he creates for his team. A great leader.
“Big advantage for me, though, seeing it first hand, game planning around that, trying to keep him away from his strengths … that will definitely help a lot.”