OSU scored the game’s first six points at Iowa State, then fell behind – well behind at times – and never caught up.
Yet there was Marcus Smart late, trying to will another late Cowboys comeback, scoring and stealing and scrapping until the final buzzer.
And as OSU coach Travis Ford said, somehow, the Cowboys were within three twice and two, 70-68, with 4:32 to play.
“Somehow,” Ford said. Behind Smart, that’s how. The Cowboys freshman scored 16 of his game-high 24 in the second half, and finished with a team-high eight rebounds, five steals and three assists. Sensing the need from his team, which is one of Smart’s greatest assets, he proved late why he’s a Big 12 Player of the Year candidate, nearly single-handedly taking over the game.
Most nights, Smart gives the Cowboys what they need. Against Iowa State, they needed everything, including scoring, resulting in him taking a season-high 22 shots. He made just eight, yet impacted the game in a major way.
“Coming into the game, I knew they were going to play may certain ways,” Smart said. “I just kind of tried to take what the defense gave me. Some shots I probably shouldn’t have took. It was just kind of an in-the-flow-of-the-moment thing. I definitely took more shots than I usually do.”
All in the call of duty.
Afterward, Cyclones Fred Hoiberg joined the list of coaches to rave about Smart and his game-changing ways.
“Marcus Smart is one my favorite guys I’ve coached against,” Hoiberg said. “Just to see the way he approaches the game. He’s a great kid. He makes every player around him better. That kid, I tell you what, he’s got a heck of a bright future. “We’ve got a lot of talented freshmen in this league and he’s right there at the top.”