"I experienced some major foul trouble against a team in a very hyped-up Bedlam game," Smart said. "Those are our archrivals. It was, 'Welcome to the Big 12,' right there."
Oh, how things have changed. Marcus Smart and the No. 17 Cowboys do the welcoming now. At 12:30 p.m. Saturday in Gallagher-Iba Arena, OSU plays host to "Bedlam, Part Two."
Since his dark day in Norman, Smart has led the Cowboys (18-5, 8-3) on a 7-1 run, propelling OSU back into the Top-25 and straight into serious NCAA tournament discussion. Meanwhile, the Sooners (16-7, 7-4) went 5-4 in that span. We can credit OSU's recent run to Smart, and the Cowboys' newfound consistency. Things are a lot easier when players excel in established roles within a team concept.
"A lot of people were still trying to find where they fit in on this team," Smart said. "We jelled together; they found their spot where they belong. This team has really taken on the fact that we are a brotherhood. We took that on, we embraced it. We actually are a brotherhood now."
But in a Bedlam rivalry, words are cheap. The Cowboys will have to prove it on Saturday. OU comes to town in what has become one of the most hyped in-state games in recent history. With a win, OSU gains a two-game advantage over the Sooners in the Big 12 standings. With a loss, OU would tie the Cowboys in the rankings, given the advantage with two Beldam wins this year.
Markel Brown is set on making sure the second of those options doesn't happen. The junior doesn't need any explanation for how big this one will be. He's got the most Bedlam experience as anyone on the Cowboys' roster.
"It's no secret we don't like each other," Brown said. "(OU) is our rivals. We hate them."
And some more good news for the Cowboys? The "Rowdy" could be back on Saturday. For just the second time this season, Gallagher-Iba Arena will have a sellout crowd.