Playing before many Poke fans on TCU’s home court, the Oklahoma State Cowboys won for the ninth time in 10 games and stayed within a game of Kansas and Kansas State with three games left in the race for the Big 12 regular-season title.
This was a homecoming for Marcus Smart, who won back-to-back state titles at Flower Mound Marcus High School. Smart got the loudest pregame cheers among the crowd who were mostly his family and friends. He had his typical strong and tough all-around game, boasting nine points, five assists and three steals.
Smart came to a reunion, but it was Le’Bryan Nash that had a career night for the Cowboys to seal this victory. He scored a career high 28 points and grabbed fix boards. He was very aggressive on both sides of the ball and drove to the rim.
Nash noticed the ovation for Smart, but he sure didn’t mind. “Marcus is a fan favorite…he invited a lot of people, and I’m glad they came. They’re Marcus Smart fans, but they’re also Cowboy fans. When he makes great plays, good things happen.” Smart did make some great plays tonight and good things did happen. They are one of the best teams in the Big 12 and are playing consistency as a unit.
“I talked to them before we left about let’s stay focused and understand why we’re coming on this trip,” Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford said. “Because I told them I knew there was going to be a lot of family and friends around. I reminded them before the game that we needed to be locked in.”
They did stay focused on their goal, not just to win the game Wednesday night but to win the Big 12 regular season.
TCU head coach Trent Johnson said this about this Cowboy team: “In my opinion that’s as versatile a team as we have in our league…they can play fast. They can play slow. We didn’t have an answer for Nash, but make no mistake about it, the key to that whole thing is what Smart does. He’s special.” He was very special tonight in a game that they needed to win to keep in step with the Big 12 leaders.
The Horned Frogs mostly stayed in this game because they dominated in offensive rebounding. Kyan Anderson lead the Horned Frogs with 15 point, but more importantly, with passion.”We came out with a lot of intensity,” Anderson said. “Everybody in the locker room seemed to be ready. But offensively and defensively, we couldn’t get it done.”
They haven’t been able to get much done this season. They know need to regroup and figure out the way they played against Kansas the first time.
The Cowboys shot 55 percent to overcome TCU’s 14-3 edge in offensive rebounds. Coach Ford is glad his team won, but they still have a lot of work left if they want to win the Big 12 regular season.
They have Texas, who just upset the Oklahoma Sooners Wednesday night, coming into town. Texas can be one of those teams that can sneak up on you like a ninja, and slap you in the face before you can even notice.
Their only road test will be against Iowa State next week, and their last game might determine the Big 12 regular season champs when Kansas State comes into town, but that is only if Kansas loses.