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OSU basketball: Kansas and its fans await the Cowboys — and Marcus Smart

Some 16,300 Jayhawk devotees will be amped and ready, both for a showdown of Big 12 and national contenders, and also to rail on Smart, who in the span of 12 months has become Public Enemy No. 1 in Lawrence.
by John Helsley Modified: January 17, 2014 at 6:54 pm •  Published: January 17, 2014

Marcus Smart nearly went to Kansas.

And he's outwardly voiced his respect and admiration for Bill Self.

Still, none of that will help endear Smart to the throng Saturday at Allen Fieldhouse, where some 16,300 Jayhawk devotees will be amped and ready, both for a showdown of Big 12 and national contenders, and also to rail on Smart, who in the span of 12 months has become Public Enemy No. 1 in Lawrence.

“They'll probably be booing us at the hotel room,” said Cowboys guard Brian Williams. “It's going to be awful, man.

“But he'll be ready.”

Tip time is 3 p.m., with a CBS national broadcast set to deliver the first of two regular season meetings between the No. 9 Cowboys and No. 15 Jayhawks, the preseason co-favorites in the Big 12.

And it could get testy.

Remember Smart's back flip that stamped a final statement on Oklahoma State's stunning upset of the No. 2 Jayhawks last February in Allen Fieldhouse?

Recall his scoffing remarks aimed at the supposedly too-soon adoration of prized KU recruit Andrew Wiggins in the preseason?

Jayhawks fans do.

Finally, those two will meet — the reigning Big 12 Player of the Year and perhaps his chief competition, the preseason Freshman of the Year in the conference — as talk time is officially over.

Yet it won't merely be one-on-one for Smart.

It'll be Smart against The Phog, packed to the rafters with all those KU fanatics, who figure to let him have it at every opportunity.

“You just keep playing,” Smart said. “Most of the time, for the most part, I just get into a zone where I block it out and I can barely hear it. You can't focus on that. You let it go. It's going to happen. There's nothing you can do, you can't control it.”

Smart's status as a national figure, along with his hard-charging play, has put him in the crosshairs of opposing fans already this season. They hurled chants at him when the Cowboys played at Kansas State. They booed him regularly at West Virginia.

“Everywhere we go,” Williams said. “I feel like these crowds have meetings on how they're going to mess with Marcus.

“He's handling it real well. You can tell by the stat lines he's having.”

Not that KU fans were ever going to forget Smart's back flip, which used the Jayhawk logo as a launching pad, although publicly Self is downplaying it.

“What bothered me is the fact that we played like crap,” Self said, “more so than somebody else doing a back flip. If we would have played better, then that wouldn't have happened. Things like that don't bother me.”

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by John Helsley
OSU Reporter Sr.
John Helsley grew up in Del City, reading all the newspapers and sports magazines he could get his hands on. And Saturday afternoons, when the Major League Game of the Week was on, he'd keep a scorecard for the game. So the sports appeal was was...
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