“He did some good things,” Ford said. “He got an early quick foul. He was hesitant with his game a little bit. He got seven assists and one turnover in his first college game. That’s pretty good.”
Smart was a couple plays away from securing a triple-double Friday night with eight points, seven rebounds and seven assists. In his first regular start, he played 34 minutes.
“I definitely felt comfortable in that role,” Smart said. “Assists ratio should be assists least two-to-one, and I had seven-to-one, that was great. I think I commanded the floor pretty well. I found the open players, I got players the ball when they needed it and we came out with the victory.
“UC Davis came out blazing, and we knew they would,” Smart said. “They hit some tough shots … For us to come back in the second half and find a way to win, that was a positive.”
But there were plenty of negatives. UC Davis out-rebounded OSU 43-29 and went up by as many as three points in the second half. When put in perspective, the close win is worse than it looks. UC Davis went 5-26 last season.
Ford said there were multiple factors that led to the closer-than-expected victory. UC Davis refused to exchange game tape and returning injured players paired with freshmen Cowboys needed time to find fluidity in the offense
“I told our team that I’m glad we won,” Ford said. “This game could have gone either way, but I saw this kind of coming this week. We’re so out of sync offensively right now. It was a product of us playing lineups tonight that we haven’t even played in practice.”
The Cowboys found their spark late in the second half when the Cowboys. Up 1-point with 9:35 remaining, Smart made a deep lob to Markel Brown for the alley-oop to swing momentum. It also made Smart an official member of the LobStilly movement.
“We’ve been working on that since the offseason,” Smart said. “Everybody knows Markel can jump, so it wasn’t a surprise to me when he caught the ‘oop, I knew he would be there. My job was just to put it there.
“I guess I’m part of the LobStilly group now. I’m happy to be a part of it.”
Forte shines from 3-point range:
Freshman shooting guard Phil Forte hit three-of-seven 3-pointers, en route to his 13-point performance Friday night.
“I had two rattle in-and-out,” Forte said. “I don’t think they could have gotten any closer to going in. They just said, ‘Keep shooting it, you’re only a few inches off.’”
Said Ford: “We need him on the court. He can obviously make shots. He’s a reliable defender. Tonight, I definitely knew he was going to play 31 minutes.”
Olukemi makes return after ACL tear last season:
Senior forward Jean-Paul Olukemi scored 10 points and grabbed four rebounds against UC Davis.
“I didn’t see any problem in his leg,” Ford said. “I saw some rustiness in his game. I saw some areas he’s got to get better at. That’s going to come with a little more time. JP didn’t practice all week. He didn’t get on the floor until he was out there for about 15 minutes.”
Brown falls with left shoulder injury, returns to game soon after:
Said Forte: “When I saw him go down with his shoulder, I thought, ‘This is the last thing we need … Come on, can we get a break?’ We seem to have bad luck with injuries. But it’s nothing serious, he came back so hopefully he will be good to go.”
Said Ford: “I think he’s OK. I didn’t hear anything differently, so he must be OK.”