It was probably inevitable that Texas Tech would, at some point, play a truly awful basketball game. They hadn't yet done so in Big 12 conference action. But on this day in Stillwater, when Marcus Smart returned from a suspension incurred earlier against Texas Tech, the Red Raiders cracked open a 60-gallon drum of stink bait on the Cowboys.
How awful were the Red Raiders? Let us count the ways.
Their 22-point margin of defeat—84-62 was the final—was Tech's largest of the season with the exception of a 23-point loss to Pitt on November 25, 2013.
Tech's 64.3 percent free throw percentage is the worst the team has shot since shooting 57 percent against Texas Southern on November 18.
The last time the Red Raiders committed more turnovers than the 15 against Oklahoma State was against Pitt.
The only time this season Tech allowed more than 84 points in a non-overtime game was in the 87-81 loss at West Virginia.
And Oklahoma State's 56.9 percent shooting from the field is the best any team has shot against Tech all season.
Put it all together and this may have been Tech's worst performance of the season, although the losses to Pitt and Alabama are also in the running.
But the game began well enough for the Red Raiders. With only 8:31 remaining in the opening half the game was knotted at 12s. Tech's defense had been stingy while its offense lacked punch. In other words, it was shaping up as a typical Tech, down-in-the-dirt kind of game in which the outcome would be decided in the final two or three minutes.
The wheels fell off quickly, however, and unlike earlier games where the Red Raiders stormed back from large deficits, once Tech fell behind in this one, they never recovered.
And it was over the final 8:31 of the half that the Cowboys began to leave the Red Raiders in the dust. From 8:31 to the 4:12 mark, OSU went on a 15-3 run to take a 27-15 advantage. Phil Forte, Markel Brown and Marcus Smart keyed the run. Brown had a steal, five points and an assist. Smart had four points, an assist and a steal. Forte knocked down a pair of trifectas. And the Cowboys never looked back.
Part of Tech's offensive problems stemmed from point guard Robert Turner committing his second foul with almost 16 and a half minutes remaining in the opening half. With Randy Onwuasor running the Tech attack for the remainder of the half, the Red Raiders scored a mere 19 points in over 16 minutes. Onwuasor committed three largely unforced turnovers in his 17 minutes of action, and Tech's offense was comically bad during this period.
Still, and despite the offensive contretemps, it looked like Tech might keep the game close until halftime. With 0:38 left in the half, Jordan Tolbert hit a jumper to make the score 30-25 Oklahoma State. But disaster struck in the final seconds as Smart hit a tough floater in traffic with only six seconds remaining, stole Tolbert's lazy inbound pass and hit a jumper to give OSU a nine-point bulge at the break.
Tolbert's turnover was emblematic of Tech's play. The Red Raiders were careless and sloppy and played with a very low basketball IQ.
The second half turned into a Cowboy dunk-fest in which the home team pulled inexorably away from the hapless Red Raiders. Of the 19 field goals OSU hit in the second half, eight were dunks. Tech extended its defense and did a very poor job of defending the rim.
As much as this game proved to be a mismatch, so did the duel between Tech's Jaye Crockett and Marcus Smart. Crockett was at times tentative, and at other times forced the issue. He finished the game with six points, four rebounds, two assists, two steals and three turnovers.
Smart, on the other hand, looked like an All-American. He scored 16 points, grabbed three rebounds, dished out a career best 10 assists, recorded six steals and a pair of blocks while also committing three turnovers.
The Red Raiders return to action on Tuesday when Kansas State pays a visit to United Spirit Arena.
Stung in Stillwater
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