Smart has returned to being the team’s reliable rudder, resulting in better flow and a needed unselfishness that had been lacking on the offensive end during the slump.
“That seven-game losing streak we were on, this team was playing horrible,” Smart said. “It was like this team didn’t know who we were. We weren’t a team. But now we’re back together. Everybody’s jelling. We’re sharing the ball. And getting things done.
“We’re definitely playing better basketball than we were last year.”
That storyline is prominent inside the locker room as well.
A year ago, the Cowboys were fading into postseason, looking like a tired team that had lost its legs. They were bounced out of the Big 12 and NCAA tournaments in ragged performances.
“Last year, we didn’t play as hard,” Smart said. “Everybody could see it. We were just happy to be in it.”
This year, OSU looks like it’s gained a second wind.
And with eight days off between games, the Cowboys receive some added rest in the aftermath of their late push.
And they get an opportunity to reset.
“It can be,” Brown said. “With the break, we’ll get time to rest our bodies. It can be a little reset for us. Hopefully, it’s a reset in a positive way.”