Phil Forte had a rare off day, making just 1-of-6 shots from the floor, as the Wildcats prevented his deep daggers with tight defense throughout.
Now, it's way premature for panic. OSU's losses came to No. 10 Gonzaga and at No. 25 Kansas State, a pair of games that projected as toss-ups, at best. And the latter came on the road, where few visitors emerge with wins.
There's still plenty to like about this team. The Cowboys play strong defense. They're getting premium point play from Smart, who has been the answer to two glaring needs: a floor general and a go-to guy. Brown's offseason spent on improving his shot has clearly paid off.
And OSU seems to be getting healthier, with 7-footer Marek Soucek nearly ready to return from a knee injury and Brian Williams — who was needed Saturday to clamp down on K-State's red-hot Rodney McGruder — remains on the radar to return by the end of the month.
The road to recovery seemingly begins Wednesday night, with a visit from TCU, which lost at home to struggling Texas Tech in its Big 12 opener.
Then comes OSU's next shot at addressing its road woes: Round 1 of the Bedlam series, Saturday in Norman. After that, the Cowboys play three of their next four inside Gallagher-Iba Arena.
So an opportunity to rebuild momentum exists.
Saturday's loss at K-State wasn't a bad loss. It just would have been a big win, a statement win, especially at the outset of the conference schedule. And it was there for the taking, much like the Gonzaga game, except the Cowboys failed to seize control.
OSU needs to fix some things, beginning with rebounding. The common denominator in each of the Cowboys' losses: a beating on the boards. They'd benefit from smarter play, too, especially when fouls mount. And better production.
So, who's in?