Sophomore Marcus Smart endured one of the worst days of his career Saturday.
And one of his most trying, as the Cowboys star even left the court briefly at one point — perhaps in a self-imposed timeout — as his frustration boiled over in OSU's 81-75 win against West Virginia at Gallagher-Iba Arena.
Smart was mired in foul trouble throughout, was limited to 25 minutes and finished with four points on 1-of-7 shooting in a physical game that found him frequently on the floor and taking body blows from the Mountaineers.
Late in the game, he emotionally walked past the OSU bench and out of sight behind the bleachers.
“When you're a top player like that, you'll get frustrated when stuff doesn't go your way,” said teammate Le'Bryan Nash. “I get frustrated a lot of times when stuff doesn't go my way. We try to help him out, but I feel like he was getting beat up. Every time he went to the hole, he was getting some calls that weren't going his way.
“It's frustration. That's being a college player, and I can't say anything bad about it because I do the same thing.”
Later Saturday night, Smart issued an apology to his teammates, via Twitter.
“Today wasn't one of my most proudest moments. I lost my composure and left my team hanging. It won't happen again and I apologize to my team… my bad fellas, good win,” he tweeted.
FIRST-HALF RUN FUELED WIN
The Cowboys were struggling on offense, trailing 25-17 at one point in the first half.
Then they closed the period on a 16-5 run, punctuated in the final seconds by a follow-slam by Markel Brown and another dunk by Nash that made it 42-35 at the break. Reserves Phil Forte and Stevie Clark also provided big plays during the spurt, particularly on the defensive end with steals.
“I tell you, the last five minutes of the first half were the difference in the game,” OSU coach Travis Ford said of the momentum-shifting surge. “Stevie Clark and Phil Forte just gave us incredible energy, made hustle plays there at the end of the first half and really gave us a boost.
“And Le'Bryan held down the fort for us and made some shots for us. We were able to play off him a little bit when other things just weren't there tonight.”
UP NEXT: BEDLAM
OSU heads to Norman for a Big Monday Bedlam clash, taking on Oklahoma in an 8 p.m. start set for ESPN.
The Sooners won at Texas Tech Saturday, 74-65, improving to 16-4 overall and 5-2 in Big 12 play.
Both teams are ranked, with OU at No. 25 in the AP poll.
“It's Bedlam. It doesn't get any better than this,” Nash said. “It's two good teams. We're going into their house. We really want to win.
“You've got to give it to Oklahoma, they've got some good wins and this is going to be tough.”
BROWN ADDS ANOTHER HIGHLIGHT
West Virginia had gone on a 13-4 spurt into a 48-46 lead to start the second half, and the GIA crowd had gone quiet.
Then Brown re-energized the building.
Brown stole a pass near midcourt, led his own break and launched into a 360-degree spin, throwing down a dunk that flipped the energy switch on the arena and the Cowboys.
It was the latest highlight dunk for Brown, who has built a library of popular jams. Where does this one rank among his personal favorites?
“I think we can slide that in the top five somewhere,” he said. “We'll find a place for it.”
* When Brown blocked Eron Harris' shot at the 17:44 mark of the first half, he became the first Cowboy in school history to record 250 assists, 100 steals and 100 blocked shots in a career. He now has 263 assists, 115 steals and 101 blocks in his four years as a Cowboy.
* Brown became just the ninth player in school history to record 100 blocked shots in a career, and is the only guard to have achieved that feat.
* The six-point victory was the closest game OSU has had at home this season. The previous closest game was a 13-point victory over Texas (87-74) on Jan. 8.
* Forte recorded a career-best five steals against the Mountaineers.