Rapid reaction: Oklahoma State beats NC State 76-56 to win Puerto Rico tournament
By Anthony Slater – Aslater@opubco.com - @anthonyVslater
Oklahoma State shocked 6th-ranked NC State on Sunday night, beating the Wolfpack 76-56 to win the Puerto Rico Tip-Off Tournament. Here’s some rapid reaction:
Early in the first half, Marcus Smart drilled back-to-back threes, floated in a fadeaway and completely set the tone. His shot was on (like we haven’t seen), his energy was on a different level and his team followed his lead. The Cowboys jumped out to that comfortable cushion, sparked by Smart’s offensive binge, and didn’t look back.
It was over when…
….NC State star CJ Leslie fouled out with 17 minutes left, picked up a technical on his way to the bench and began an uninspired second-half Wolfpack effort. The sixth-ranked team in the country was overwhelmed and completely outplayed by unranked OSU, watching helplessly as the Cowboys ripped boards and bombed in threes on their head.
Star of the tournament – Marcus Smart
Smart has an amazing sense of the game, a rare feel for exactly what type of player his team needs him to be at particular times. Early on, with a hot hand, he provided all the offensive firepower (18 first-half points), allowing his teammates to ease into a high-pressure game. With the lead and growing confidence, Smart backed off the offensive throttle in the second half (two points), turned up the defense/rebounding and guided the Cowboys to a statement win. Incredible performance from the freshman. His final line was a thing of beauty: 20 points, seven rebounds, seven assists, four steals and four blocks.
Robin to his Batman
During a rocky freshman season, Le’Bryan Nash was mocked for his energy and knocked for his production. So far in Year 2, he’s fixed the first, directly leading to a big boost in the second. Marcus Smart’s arrival has allowed Nash to slip into a more comfortable role, playing second fiddle most of the game, but allowed plenty of opportunities to showcase his inside-out scoring ability. He’s had smarter shot selection (only two three-point attempts the past three games) and more defensive energy (seven rebounds, two steals and a block on Sunday). And because of that, his best skill has shined, scoring 58 points in three Puerto Rico games, the most of any three-game stretch since his arrival at OSU.
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