STILLWATER — Marcus Smart arrived in Stillwater with much acclaim, backed up by so many coaches and analysts touting his skills and his intangibles as a game-changer.
All of it was on full display Wednesday night, when Smart flipped a tight, important game against Iowa State, capped by his decisive basket with 3.1 seconds left, lifting Oklahoma State to a 78-76 win before an estimated 6,500 at Gallagher-Iba Arena.
Smart's final numbers: a game-high 21 points, seven assists, six rebounds and four steals.
And two big shots — a banked-in, 55-foot buzzer beater to end the first half, then a driving power play in the closing seconds to break a 76-76 tie.
“Most of the time, shots like that, I don't think it's going in,” Smart said of his final basket. “At that time and moment, I had a feeling like I couldn't miss when I was going to the basket, like whatever I threw up was going in.”
The final shot was originally designed to go to Markel Brown, but once Smart took the inbounds pass with 24.6 seconds remaining, the ball never left his hands.
After dribbling out front, Smart went to work with seven seconds left, beating Iowa State defender Will Clyburn and powering past late help from Cyclones forward Georges Niang, tossing up the game-winner.
“The play was designed for Markel to go back door, because we knew they were going to be overplaying,” Smart said. “He came off two double-screens. Coach (Travis) Ford said get to the basket if it's there. That's kind of what happened. My defender let up on me and I just took him.
“I made a tough shot, but it was a big shot for my team.”
And while there was drama to play out over those final three-plus seconds, Smart provided the big shot in a big win for the Cowboys, who overcame a perimeter-shooting barrage by the Cyclones on a night when it seemed like they trailed much of the way, despite 15 lead changes and nine ties.