No. 14 Oklahoma State (24-9): 55
IN A NUTSHELL:
Oklahoma State had three turnovers in the first minute. Call it big-game jitters. The Cowboys got over them when Markel Brown hit a 3-pointer at the 18:16 mark to get things going. Both teams combined 10-12 shooting from the field for a hot start. By the midway point, the Ducks led 13-12. The teams combined for 11 turnovers and five 3-pointers. But the Ducks held OSU scoreless for about six minutes, before a pair of Marcus Smart free throws (his first points of the game) cut the deficit to 19-14 with 7:47 left. But the Cowboys couldn't get much closer. Turnovers and good transition offense from the Ducks kept them ahead. Le'Bryan Nash sat on the bench with three early fouls. The margin reached double-digits by the five-minute mark. Effort points from Smart cut it closer once again. But it was Brown who carried the load offensively. He finished the half with 9 points on 4-of-6 shooting. Smart's stat line was once again ridiculous: 6 points, 3 assists, 3 steals and 5 rebounds. But his 3 turnovers added to the Cowboys' 10 total were killer. The Ducks led 37-26 at the break.
The Ducks kept pouring it on. Michael Cobbins picked up his fourth foul three minutes in. An angry 12-seeded Oregon was playing like a team with a lot to prove and the Cowboys just couldn't keep up. Ford called a quick timeout at the 15:48 mark, with his team down 46-33. Brown continued to spark the offense (he finished the night with 16 points, 3 assists and 2 steals). At the midway point, the Cowboys trailed 54-39. Phil Forte scored his first points of the game on a lay-in drive to the basket. At the 3:46 mark, Smart took a drive inside that drew an offensive foul — his fourth. With the score at 62-48, it was all but over. The free throws that followed only delayed the inevitable. OSU finished its season with a 68-55 upset loss to 12-seed Oregon.
BY THE NUMBERS:
1: Largest lead the Cowboys held all game.
6: OSU players with at least three fouls.
11: First half offensive rebounds for Oregon.
14: More rebounds Oregon had than OSU.
24: Wins this season for Travis Ford's team.
31: Combined turnovers by both teams.
53.3: Free-throw shooting percentage by OSU.
68: 3-pointers made by Phil Forte this season — a single-season freshman record.
COWBOYS' MVP: Marcus Smart
By the end of this one, Smart was trying to win it by himself. And it wasn't working. But still, he easily was the Cowboys best all-around player: 14 points, 8 rebounds, 5 steals and 4 assists. This was far from his best performance, but as always, he was energetic and attacked the basket with force. This was a very disappointing way to go out for Smart. It will be interesting to see if that factors into his decision whether or not to come back next season.
DUCKS' MVP: Arsalan Kazemi
To win this one, the Cowboys needed to win the rebounding battle. Arsalan Kazemi made sure that didn't happen. The Ducks' versatile forward finished with 11 points and 17 rebounds. He was everywhere. With Cobbins in early foul trouble, the Cowboys' had no answer. Look out for the Ducks moving forward. They're peaking at the right time.
Travis Ford: "When you're missing front-ends of one-and-ones and they're making threes, all the momentum builders, they were getting. The turnovers, the rebounds, the threes; those are all momentum builders. We couldn't sustain it. Our guys fought back, we could just never get it going. We never got momentum. Not once in this game."
Marcus Smart: "At this time of month, you've got to be mentally tough. Unfortunately, we weren't coming out to start the game."
Le'Bryan Nash: "We didn't run our offense well and we didn't block out. Going into the game, we knew what there strengths were. And they did it ... the referees were letting us play. They got away with some things, but that's how basketball is. You don't know what you're going to get from the referees."