Men's basketball: Nash, Smart lead Cowboys past Sooners
The Oklahoma men’s basketball team had no answer for OSU’s young playmakers, freshman guard Marcus Smart and sophomore forward Le’Bryan Nash, losing an instant classic to No. 17 Oklahoma State in overtime, 84-79.
Smart led the Cowboys in scoring with a career-high 28 points, along with seven rebounds and four assists.
Nash was slightly behind in the statistics department, finishing with 26 points, five rebounds and three assists, but he was an instrumental part of the victory, especially in overtime.
Nash scored the first seven points of the OT period for the Cowboys, including two big dunks that fired up the Gallagher-Iba Arena crowd.
“He’s a tough matchup,” coach Lon Kruger said. “He’s mobile; he’s strong; he can get the ball in the paint and finish at the rim. He’s just a real tough guy to match up with.”
Despite the contributions from Smart and Nash, OU ended the first half on a 27-8 run to take a 35-27 lead and did not trail for the entire second half. OSU took their first lead after halftime with 1:37 left in OT.
“We were still in high spirits [going into overtime],” senior forward Romero Osby said. “We weren’t down because we had been up most of the game. We tried to just stay together and stay poised.”
Osby did everything he could to help the Sooners, riding a monster second half to 18 points and 15 rebounds.
However, it wasn’t enough, and after Osby missed a potential game-winner with seven seconds left, the Sooners were unable to keep up with OSU in overtime.
Oklahoma had a chance to tie the game with 18 seconds remaining in overtime, but Smart was able to force a jumpball on a 3-point attempt from senior guard Steven Pledger.
“I knew that they needed a three and that once he got it, he wasn’t going to give the ball up,” Smart said. “I just timed it perfectly, went up with him and made sure I got ball.”
OU looked as if it might have been feeling the effects of losing a key contributor, freshman guard Buddy Hield, but other players stepped up and offset some of that loss.
Senior guard Sam Grooms in particular had a big game in Hield’s absence, scoring a career-high 18 points. His previous career high had been seven.
“Sam played great,” Kruger said. “He battled all day long and was a big reason that we were in good position there late. We wouldn’t have been in that position had he not played as well as he did.”