By Anthony Slater – Aslater@opubco.com - @anthonyVslater
Oklahoma State beat Oklahoma 84-79 in overtime on Saturday in Stillwater. Here’s some rapid reaction:
Le’Bryan Nash (yes, the oft-critizised Le’Bryan Nash) took over in the game’s crucial moments, scoring 23 of his 26 points after halftime and seven points in the final 2:21. That included a pair of baseline dunks sandwiched between a strong and-1 move. It kept OSU afloat after a rough start in overtime and paved the way for Marcus Smart’s big finish.
It was over when…
…Marcus Smart swallowed Steven Pledger’s potential game-tying three attempt, stoning the shot in his hands and forcing a jumpball (OSU possession) with 19 seconds left. Then, moments later, he clinched the game with two big free throws, putting a clutch cap on his career-high 28 points.
Star of the game – Marcus Smart
More than just another ridiculous line (28 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, 1 block), Smart altered every part of the game with his uncanny leadership and basketball IQ. He willed OSU to a win with hustle plays and clutch buckets. The clear favorite for Big 12 Player of the Year was special again.
Unsung hero – Sam Grooms
Wait, what? Where did he come from? Sam Grooms was scoreless in his past two games and had scored a combined 11 points in the past six. So of course, the senior went for a career-high 18 points, tying for the team-lead and more than doubling his previous season-high of seven. Grooms single-handedly outscored the OSU bench by six. He was expected to get a little more burn with Buddy Heild out, but nobody could have expected this. If OU can get a sliver of this effort moving forward, it’ll be a huge bonus.
Eight minutes into the game, it looked like OU was dead and buried, trailing the Cowboys by 11 and looking understandably lost in a wild atmosphere. But this is a new era of Sooners hoops. Lon Kruger’s calm demeanor has clearly rubbed off on his team. And it showed in a big way, with OU closing the first half on a 27-8 run and claiming a lead it wouldn’t give up until late in overtime. Rough, rough loss, considering how it all went down, but a valiant effort by an NCAA tourney level team.
Stats of note
-Romero Osby finished with 15 rebounds. No other player had more than seven.
-Smart and Nash combined for 54 of Oklahoma State’s 84 points.
-OSU has now won seven straight Big 12 wins. That’s the longest streak in the Travis Ford era.
It was announced a sellout early Friday morning, but there was still some lingering skepticism whether 13,611 seats would be filled. Honestly, it felt like more than that were in the arena, with every seat filled and a growing number of fans standing on the second level concourse throughout the game. Great atmosphere, great for college basketball in this state.
On the crowd’s decision to storm the court:
Kansas (vs Texas) and Kansas State (vs Baylor) both play later tonight.
Sweet move from Nash
Kansas comes to Stillwater on Wednesday (8 p.m. on ESPN2) with the Big 12 lead on the line. Meanwhile, OU travels to Texas Tech for a much-needed get-well game.