Smart, No. 5 Cowboys Hit The Road

Marcus Smart has had a week to remember. First, the Oklahoma State sophomore scored a career-high 39 points in Tuesday night's 101-80 victory over No. 11 Memphis. Then on Saturday he was the guest picker on ESPN's College GameDay broadcast from Stillwater, and he correctly predicted OSU's victory over Baylor. Can this week go as well for Smart as the Cowboys travel to Florida to play four games?

The Cowboys, who moved up to No. 5 in this week's Associated Press Top 25, will be playing their first games away the friendly confines of Gallagher-Iba Arena, beginning with Monday night's first true road contest of the season at South Florida in Tampa.

Smart and the Cowboys are 4-0 after opening the season with victories over Mississippi Valley State, Utah Valley, Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Memphis. The South Florida Bulls are also 4-0 following Friday night's 72-63 victory over Stetson.

OSU will then play three games in the Old Spice Classic tournament, beginning with a first-round game against Purdue on Thanksgiving Day. If they win, the Cowboys will face the winner of the Butler-Washington State first-round game on Friday. The championship game is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Sunday (Central time), and if both teams take care of business, it could involve a rematch between OSU and Memphis on national television (ESPN2).

Smart will be hard pressed to match his performance against Memphis, when he scored 24 points in the first 11 minutes of the game and finished with 39 (bettering his previous career high was 28 points). He also had 5 steals, 4 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 blocks.

It was easily the best performance in his two years at Oklahoma State, and probably of his entire life, said Phil Forte, his longtime teammate.

"I've always said the bigger the game the better he plays. He was in the zone, for sure. I think it just carried over to everybody else," said Forte, who has been on teams with Smart since the third grade.

Forte, the Cowboys sophomore who is averaging 15.8 points in four games this season, only played four minutes against Memphis because of an illness. But his teammate's performance made him forget about how he felt, saying he's never seen Smart play better.

"No, I've never seen a stretch where he completely dominated a game like he did against Memphis the other night. He was just in the zone. He hits the back of the rim and it drops in. It was something cool to watch," Forte said.

Forte and Smart won back-to-back Texas Class 5A high school state championships while teammates at Flower Mound Marcus, so he was well aware of what the Cowboys sophomore was capable of doing in important games.

"I knew he'd play well but I didn't know he'd have 39 points. I expected a big night from him, he always shows up for the big games, but 39 points, that's something that's outstanding. He just played his butt off that night," he said.

Smart and the Cowboys now take their show on the road to Florida, and hope to return to Stillwater with four more victories and an Old Spice Classic championship.


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