STILLWATER — “One more year! One more year!” the OSU crowd chanted every time Marcus Smart stepped to the foul line.
Travis Ford didn't appear to join the chorus, though you couldn't blame the Cowboy coach if he turned ventriloquist to increase the volume.
But why set limits? If you're going to dream big, dream impossibly big. Ask for two more years.
Ask the freshman phenom to keep the magic going as long as possible.
Smart has brought back the rowdy to Gallagher-Iba Arena and brought back the winning to Cowboy basketball.
OSU beat ninth-ranked Kansas State 76-70 Saturday to cap a renaissance regular season and send the 23-7 Cowboys into the post-season with well-placed optimism.
“If we play like we did tonight, we can win some games,” said State coach Travis Ford.
And if this was Smart's final OSU home game, it was a swell sayonara. Smart had 21 points, six rebounds, six assists and only four missed shots.
Players this good — NBA draft lottery level — almost always turn pro. Here's hoping that Smart stays, because college basketball in this state is much more fun with him in the game, and Ford says he won't be surprised either way.
Smart says he heard the chants and tried to block them out but he appreciates the sentiments.
“It means a lot,” Smart said. “When I first got here, the fans accepted me with opening arms. This has been a great ride. That was a great win.”
Smart's sidekicks were good, too. Le'Bryan Nash had 24 points and missed only two shots. Markel Brown had 16 points. And OSU's defense was mostly excellent. KSU scored 20 points on its first 11 second-half possessions, but otherwise, the Cowboys clamped down. For the game, KSU shot below 40 percent from the field.
K-State coach Bruce Weber said the Wildcats handled Smart better on Jan. 5 in Manhattan. Of course, OSU is not the same team it was two months ago. These Cowboys are much better.
“You know, he's good,” Weber said of Smart. “The key is when other guys play well, that allows him to roam more. Now you're worried about Nash, you're worried about Brown, and then he kinda roamed. We have to do a better job of protecting, because if you play those guys one-on-one, they're just too good. They're very, very talented."