FORT WORTH — Leyton Hammonds drove the lane, crossed over, switched hands comfortably and scored the bucket lefty Monday night. Key word: comfortably.
Hammonds came to Oklahoma State with a scoring reputation, having starred at nearby North Richland Hills High as a Class 5A All-State selection. Yet his first months as a Cowboy have been anything but comfortable.
The freshman wing man revealed a surging confidence Monday night, scoring a career-high 13 points as a major contributor in Oklahoma State’s 76-54 rout of TCU at Daniel Meyer Coliseum. And while Hammonds’ rising isn’t exactly right on time, it is timely, giving OSU a needed added weapon in its bid for a late-season surge.
“I know I can make shots,” said Hammonds, who averaged 20.3 points and 10.4 rebounds at North Richland Hills, a Fort Worth suburb. “I know I’m a player. And playing with these guys every day in practice, I know I’m playing with the best basketball players in the country.
“And I know I’m getting better. I know if I can do things against them, I know I can be effective in the game.”
On a night when Marcus Smart rediscovered his 3-point touch — making five in the final 71/2 minutes — and Phil Forte led all scorers with 23 points, the Cowboys won their second straight as they head toward a Saturday showdown with Kansas inside Gallagher-Iba Arena.
Trying to distance itself from a recent seven-game losing streak, OSU improved to 18-10 overall and 6-9 in the Big 12. The Horned Frogs remained winless in the conference at 0-15 and fell to 9-18 overall.
Playing their second game in three days, the Cowboys struggled at the start, but eventually got going, with Hammonds scoring five straight points during a stretch that sent OSU to a 37-22 lead at the half.
The Horned Frogs made things interesting midway through the second half, pulling within six at 47-41 at the 9:09 mark.
But Forte and Smart — the former Flower Mound Marcus stars, playing close to home, too — ignited the blowout from there, highlighted by one key sequence.
Smart fired in a 3-pointer, stole the inbounds pass and fed Forte, who drilled a 3 and then produced a quick steal, assisting another Smart trey. In the span of 30 seconds, OSU expanded its lead form 58-46 to 67-46.