“I think he's one of the best players in the country,” said Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg. “He's a winner.
“Made plays when it mattered most. He does everything for them.”
The Cowboys improved to 14-5 overall and 4-3 in the Big 12, scoring a notch against one of the other teams jockeying for the Big 12's eventual allotment of NCAA Tournament berths. Iowa State fell to 14-6 and 4-3, but not before putting a scare into the Cowboys and their crowd.
The Cyclones shot 53.8 percent from the floor and 54.2 percent from the arc, making 13 3-pointers on 24 attempts. They led by as many as eight in the first half and 11 after intermission. And every time OSU made a run, Iowa State seemed to have an answer from long range.
The Cowboys countered with Smart, and balanced scoring, with Le'Bryan Nash adding 18 points, while Phil Forte had 17, Markel Brown 12 and Michael Cobbins 10.
“I didn't think we played great defense, but we took a great shot from the other team, too,” Ford said. “I know we left them open sometimes, but all I see right now is 3s going in. I don't remember them missing a shot.
“When they're shooting like that, they're tough to beat.”
And the Cyclones were tough to beat, even after Smart's final bucket.
The final :03.1 took five minutes to play, with the Cowboys forcing a turnover, only to get called for a foul on their own inbounds pass with :00.8 showing. Initially, it looked like a costly foul, with Nash called for pushing Iowa State's Chris Babb on a long heave designed to run out the clock — sending Babb to the line for a 1-and-1 try.
But officials conferred, and changed the call to a player-control foul, with the Cyclones not in possession of the ball, thus not getting free throws. Finally, on their final inbound play, Tyus McGee fired wildly as the clock expired.