Marcus Smart closed both halves of Wednesday night’s 78-76 win over Iowa State with a bang.The game-winner was, well, the game-winner – a muscling drive to the hole completed when he tossed in a running jumper over Cyclones forward Georges Niang with :03.1 remaining.
But his shot to end the first half – a 55-foot heave from beyond halfcourt – was huge, too.
ISU’s Chris Babb had just drilled a 3, giving the Cyclones a 41-35 lead with six seconds remaining in the half, a disheartening dagger that sucked the life out of Gallagher-Iba Arena and might have done the same to the Cowboys.
Except Smart took the inbounds pass, took a few dribbles up the floor and let it go just before the buzzer. The ball flew through the air… then banked off the glass and in, giving the arena and the team a needed jolt.
“Actually, I practice it every day,” a beaming Smart said afterward.
Seated next to him in the postgame press conference, Le’Bryan Nash chimed in: “A lot.”
Smart said the heave is actually somewhat of a daily ritual.
“When we’re walking into the gym, I throw up a shot and my first shot is from half-court,” he said. “I’ve made them about five times every other practice.
“I really wasn’t expecting it to go in, I was really trying to draw a foul. I just released it and it went in.”