STILLWATER — Kevin Durant walked into Gallagher-Iba Arena and took a front-row seat with about four minutes left in the first half.
Sorry, KD. You missed the show.
A Marcus Smart 3-point swisher off a screen. Three Smart foul shots after he was hacked beyond the arc. Another Smart 3-pointer. Finally, a Smart pullup from way deep.
Twelve points; 71 seconds.
College basketball's greatest playmaker, a sophomore who built his fast-growing legend by doing everything well except score big, went all Keiton Page.
With a shooting display that rivaled Durant at his hottest, Smart took over a college basketball showdown Tuesday night.
Smart scored 24 points in a nine-minute stretch of the first half that put OSU in control, he finished with a career-high 39 and the seventh-ranked Cowboys routed 11th-ranked Memphis 101-80.
But good news for Durant. He might just be able to see the act again.
Maybe this is the new Marcus Smart. Maybe the guy who likes to dish and do dirty work and stuff the stat sheet is prepared to elevate his game in what promises to be quite the Cowboy season.
OSU coach Travis Ford downplayed the idea of a new Smart, the idea that Smart might become a rocket launcher to go with the grit and guile that made him a first-team All-American as a freshman last season.
But the eyewitness testimony said otherwise. Smart has worked hard to improve his outside shot, which could make him virtually unguardable, since he's a bulldog getting to the basket.
“I knew it would happen eventually,” Cowboy Brian Williams said of Smart's explosion. “We knew a breakout game was coming soon. If he's hot like that, we need to get him the ball more.”
And the statistical evidence says so, too. Smart made five of 10 3-pointers. A week earlier, against Utah Valley, a team not quite as potent as Memphis, Smart also launched 10 treys, making four.
Smart last season had 11 games in which he took fewer than 10 shots of any kind. He never had 10 3-point shots in a game. Now twice in four games he's taken 10 3-pointers, and for the season, he's shooting 38.6 percent from beyond the arc.
“I knew when I let go my first shot and it went in, I knew it was going to be a good night,” Smart said. “Words can't even explain. This is my first 30-point game ever in my career. It was amazing.”
It's true. Smart's career high had been 28, in Bedlam last February.
Smart said his aggression against Memphis was “just something in me. Before the game, I went into a zone, just told myself, whatever I can to help the team win. I just came out real aggressive.”
Smart scored six points in 31 seconds early in the game, but he was just getting started. Smart's 12-point explosion, capped with that trey with 9:08 remaining in the first half, lifted OSU's lead from 17-16 to 29-20.
Then Smart fell victim to the siren song of such a stage. He started playing a little reckless. Some ill-advised shots. Some bad-decision passes. A flair for the dramatic is an intoxicating thing.
“When you're on a roll and you're a player like him, you know it,” Ford said. “You feel it. You feel almost invincible. You start forcing some things, and that's natural.”
But Smart's teammates rallied around him, playing well down the stretch of the first half, extending the halftime lead to 50-32. Smart returned to his normal self in the second half (3-of-5 shooting, total game control) and Memphis had no prayer.
Don't expect Smart to stay that way. The new normal just might be a guy able to take over a game with a shooting display that would impress even Kevin Durant.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.