Now losers of four straight, to stand at 4-6 in conference play, they can't afford many more setbacks.
Before the Smart suspension, OSU owned a fair chance at winning two of these three: at Texas, home against Oklahoma, and at Baylor.
“I feel like I let my teammates down,” Smart said. “Those guys mean a lot to me, and not being able to be out there with them will hit me in my heart.”
And it's likely to hit the Cowboys in the loss column.
Reasonable math suggests that OSU needs five more wins to secure an NCAA Tournament berth, at 9-9 in the Big 12. Four more, to get the Cowboys to 8-10, combined with a conference tournament win or two, might also add up, considering the Big 12's status as the nation's No. 1 conference in all of the major RPI categories.
Yet getting those four or five wins appears daunting, even with Smart.
And with seemingly no reinforcements riding to the rescue.
Ford has put out one call for help — to OSU fans.
“If you're a Cowboy fan, I would tell them to rally around this team and give this team your support,” Ford said. “No matter how you feel about a certain thing, if you're a Cowboy fan, give them your support and rally around this team. Help this team and rally around them as much as possible.”
The Cowboys are three men down.
And it's now up to the other guys.