Not The Same Old Smart; Just Better

I kind of disagreed a little bit with Oklahoma State head coach Travis Ford, or maybe it is more correct to say that Ford disagreed with me following No. 7 Oklahoma State's 101-80 victory over 11th-ranked Memphis on Tuesday night. I asked Ford whether Smart played against Memphis with a different attitude than we had seen before out of the stellar young Cowboy.

Smart has always let the game come to him and been that all around scorebook filler in a variety of categories. But Tuesday night, by his own admission, it was time to "fill 'er up." Smart has worked on his jump shot particularly from beyond the arch and he was feeling it against the Tigers.

"There was just something in me. Before the game, I was in the zone where I told myself I was going (to do) whatever to help the team win," said Smart. "That's just what I went out to do.

"When we got the first tip, Geron Johnson bowed up and denied me the ball. I was a little surprised by it. He said a little something to me. He jawed off, and that motivated me to become more aggressive," said Smart.

It wasn't like Smart told his teammates to give him the ball but when he got it there was a spell in the game where he was going to shoot it. That's not a bad thing especially when you end up with a career-high 39 points and shoot over 50 percent from the field, an even 50 percent from three-point range (5-of-10) and get to the free throw line 16 times. Smart also had four rebounds, four assists and five steals.

"Those kinds of moments are special," Ford said of Smart's night. "He was definitely feeling it. He made some really tough shots, and sometimes those aren't really ones you want taken, but you've got to go with him. When he's feeling it, he knows it.

"Our biggest thing wasn't threes. It was attacking the basket, and I think that we did a good job of that. When you get a guy that gets hot like that, it makes it that much better. It energizes your defense. It makes everything better. He got hot early, and that set the tone for the game."

"I knew it would happen eventually," said teammate Brian Williams, who added 15 points and 8 rebounds to the Cowboys night. "He had a couple of good games, but we knew a breakout game was coming soon. He definitely had that tonight. He shot the ball with confidence and found us when he could."

Smart was still humble about it and he was giving credit to his teammates.

"My teammates gave me the ball when I needed it in order to get my shot off," Smart added. "Words can't even explain. I think this is my first 30-point game in my career, and it's amazing. It was a great team win out there. Like I said, if it wasn't for my teammates, I wouldn't have had 30 points."

As for whether there was any special motivation on the night, it was a showdown between two highly ranked teams, both backcourts were considered in the preseason among the best in the nation, Memphis actually ranked by some magazines as the best. Then again there were a number of celebrities in the house including Oklahoma City Thunder head coach Scott Brooks and one of his players, Kevin Durant.

"It was crazy. Coach actually told us that he asked to come to the game, but we thought he was playing around," Smart said with a wide-eyed look on his face. "We were like 'Kevin Durant? Really? Come on.'

"Then we looked on the front row and I was like, 'Oh, whoa. Wait a minute. Am I dreaming?' That was an amazing experience to be a part of. We saw Kevin Durant, and we just wanted to put on a show for him."

It was a show from Smart unlike any we've seen before, but one you just knew he was always capable of.


GoPokes Top Stories