STILLWATER — Marcus Smart wasn't himself in the rematch with Memphis.
First, he was ill, throwing up in a bucket behind the Oklahoma State bench at one point.
Second, he was off — way off from his previous meeting with Memphis. And off in general.
Smart made just 4 of 13 shots from the floor and none of his five 3-point attempts. He also committed five turnovers, including two late when the Cowboys were trying to overcome a 1-point deficit in the final 30 seconds of an eventual 73-68 loss in the title game of the Old Spice Classic.
“I forced a lot that game,” said Smart, who scored a career-high 39 points in a rout of Memphis in Stillwater. “I knew when I looked at the film. To this day, I beat myself up, because I know I forced a lot of things and I had a lot of teammates open on certain drives and certain plays.
“It just comes with the territory. You've got to live and learn.”
That's what this week has been about in Stillwater — learning — with OSU coach Travis Ford armed with tangible teaching tools for his No. 9-ranked squad.
The test comes Friday night, with South Carolina visiting Gallagher-Iba Arena as part of the Big 12/SEC Challenge. Tip time is 8:30 to accommodate ESPNU.
“I think our guys are pretty disappointed with the way we played,” Ford said. “It's actually been a good lesson learned. It takes a little while to continue to sink in and get better and better at some of the things that we saw that we've got to make sure that we correct.”
Smart wasn't the only Cowboy to struggle, with Markel Brown also suffering through a 4-for-13 shooting performance. As a team, OSU shot 38.1 percent in the second half.
Ford had been trying to press some points with his players, urging them to always run their offense and warning them that the tough shots made in a 7-0 start aren't always going to fall.
Finally, his words, previously hollow, rang true.
“It's hard to teach that, especially when they're going in,” Smart admitted. “It's like, ‘I'm making them, so why not keep shooting 'em?' It's something that you've just got to learn from. That's the main thing of being a competitor; being good, you've got to learn. That's what it takes to be the best. You've got to be able to take criticism and learn from it.
“We understand what we did in that game. We understand that we didn't play our best ball.”
Free Tickets Available
With snow and cold temperatures a threat to attendance for the Cowboys' game against South Carolina on Friday night, an anonymous donor has purchased all unsold tickets, to be made available free to the public.
Those tickets will be available for pickup at 6:30 p.m. on the north side of Gallagher-Iba Arena and will remain available until the game starts at 8:30.
In addition, popcorn, hot dogs and drinks will also be sold at half price.