STILLWATER — For weeks following the first Bedlam game, Marcus Smart shrugged off any references to his struggling, foul-plagued performance in the loss, suggesting he'd let it go.
Inside, however, Smart hadn't let it go at all.
Instead, he'd bottled it up, waiting to break it out as motivation for the rematch, which finally arrived Saturday.
And what a breakout it was, with Smart scoring a career-high 28 points and grabbing a team-high seven rebounds to go with four assists, two steals and one key defensive play late in Oklahoma State's 84-79 overtime win before an overflow crowd of 13,611-plus inside Gallagher-Iba Arena.
“That's all I was thinking about was this game here, the OU game,” Smart said. “That's all that was in my mind. It was a tough thought that was in my mind.
“I just came out and wanted to prove that I was a better player than I played like. And I wasn't going to let them frustrate me this time.”
Smart made 7-of-14 shots from the floor — with four 3-pointers — and 11-of-14 free throws, bettering his previous career-best scoring performance of 25 (Kansas and Kansas State). It was a role reversal from the first meeting, when he made but 3-of-10 shots and played just 27 minutes due to foul trouble.
And it was a long time festering, since Jan. 12.
“We knew he was ready for this game,” said Cowboys coach Travis Ford. “You could see it yesterday. You could see it, no question.”
And No. 17-ranked OSU needed it all, along with a season-best outing from Le'Bryan Nash and contributions from various spots, to finally pull past the Sooners, running their winning streak to seven games and maintaining a place atop the Big 12 Standings.
The Cowboys improved to 19-5 overall and 9-3 in the conference, setting up another major matchup Wednesday night, when Kansas visits Gallagher-Iba for an 8 p.m. tip.
Both teams owned 11-point leads, with the Cowboys jumping out 19-8 to start the game and the Sooners owning a 45-34 edge early in the second half.
But OSU used a spurt to pull close, and the two teams jockeyed for the lead the rest of the way.
Nash spurred the second-half charge for the Cowboys, scoring 23 of his season-high 26 points after intermission. He accounted for seven of OSU's 11 points in the overtime.
Rather than settle for jump shots, as he can sometimes do, Nash continually slashed inside for buckets or fouls, leading to eight of his total coming at the line. Sooners coach Lon Kruger said Nash can create bad matchups, even in the post, due to his athleticism and length.
“I know I'm a matchup problem, very versatile, a guard who can post up,” Nash said. “I look at a lot of film of LeBron (James) and a lot of guys in the NBA that post up.
“I can post up big guys, as well as small guys. I think that's the best part of my game, posting up, and I try to use that to my advantage.”
Nash and Smart, who scored 19 of his points after intermission, kept the Cowboys close, even as the Sooners were shooting 61 percent in the second half. Both teams had opportunities late in regulation, but Oklahoma's Romero Osby missed a hurried running jumper as the shot clock neared zero with six seconds remaining. Then, following a timeout, Smart got an open look at a 3, but his attempt at the buzzer clanged off the rim.
Ultimately, the game flipped in the Cowboys favor in the final minute of overtime on two defensive plays.
First, Markel Brown worked a steal of the Sooners' Sam Grooms, leading to a Michael Cobbins layup that bumped the Cowboys' lead to 82-79. On Oklahoma's next possession, Smart tied up Steven Pledger on a 3-point attempt — with the possession arrow pointing Oklahoma State's way. Smart's final two free throws sealed the verdict.
And his validation.
“Norman wasn't a good game for me,” Smart said. “I started in foul trouble very early. They took me out of my game in frustration and I wasn't able to be there for my team. I felt bad.”
Now, finally, he can let that go.
“This team right here, we're on a nice little streak, little run we have going,” Smart said. “That's just a nice confidence builder for us, gives us momentum, especially for KU coming in Wednesday.
“We're just trying to ride that wave out.”