The Cowboys have long talked about managing the target affixed to their backs as a high-profile team in the Big 12 and beyond.
And the crosshairs clearly focus even tighter on Marcus Smart, who finds himself regularly measured by physical game plans of opponents designed at offsetting his own rugged nature and derailing his game.
And his emotions?
That was the scene Saturday, when Smart simmered throughout and eventually boiled over late in the game, inconsolably leaving the bench area and disappearing beyond the stands at Gallagher-Iba Arena for a few moments during OSU's 81-75 win over West Virginia.
Smart was having a rough day, and not just in reference to his season-low four points and 1-of-7 shooting performance.
It was rough, too, in his treatment by the Mountaineers, who put hands and more on the Cowboys star at every opportunity.
And Smart didn't manage it well, his mood worsened by the few calls that went his way from officials — and the many that went against him. Smart missed the final 7:26 of the first half after picking up his second personal and eventually fouled out, ending his frustrating afternoon.
Yet long before foul No. 5, he'd been taken out of his game.
And that can't continue, even as the tactics are sure to continue, if not intensify.
Oh, and Bedlam is up next, Monday night.
Ironically, the roughhousing of Smart is reminiscent of what Blake Griffin endured in his final season as a Sooner in 2009. During that season, Griffin was prodded and poked (in his privates), tripped and flipped, and literally bloodied and bruised.