STILLWATER — The Cowboys were rolling and Markel Brown kept adding to his library of dazzling dunks to giggles and grins Friday night.
Then Oklahoma State's treasured Marcus Smart took a shove from Arkansas-Pine Bluff big man Daniel Broughton, crashing hard — and loud — to the hardwood.
And a sobering realization hung in the air inside Gallagher-Iba Arena.
Even though Smart was fine, if a bit riled up, enough of the prelims. Enough glorified exhibitions against squads possibly looking to make their mark on the college game's most prominent player.
Bring on Memphis.
Fortunately for everyone involved — coaches, players and fans — that time has arrived, now that No. 8 OSU dispatched of its third straight nonconference nobody, 97-63.
Arkansas-Pine Bluff stood as the last of the tuneups. No. 13 Memphis arrives for a visit Tuesday night.
“This is something when they come out with the schedule, everyone sees,” said Cowboys sophomore Phil Forte. “Us included.
“Now that Memphis is next, all our attention and focus goes toward them.”
Until now, the Cowboys had been saying the right things. And doing the right things, playing with energy and focus against three overmatched foes. Still, they admitted, Memphis was on their minds.
“This is what we've been waiting for,” Brown said. “We finally have a big game. Hopefully we can get a packed house. It's here now. Should be a fun one.”
Brown and Phil Forte each scored 22 points against Pine Bluff, leading the way for the Cowboys. Forte tied his career-high with six made 3-pointers, and Brown seemed to alternate throw-downs with throw-ins from the perimeter.