For a long time, Texas was considered the leader in the Marcus Smart recruitment. But Smart elected to attend Oklahoma State instead, and on Saturday, the two-time state champion at Flower Mound Marcus returned to his home state and provided the difference in a 72-59 Cowboy victory.
On a day where Smart's teammates shot just 34.1 percent from the floor and 1-for-10 from three-point range, the freshman star shot 50 percent both from the field (6-of-12) and from behind the arc (3-of-6) in pouring in 23 points to go with his seven rebounds, five steals, three assists and two blocks. His effort wasn't perfect — Smart did have seven turnovers — but it was certainly enough to spur Oklahoma State to a road win at the Erwin Center, the site of both Smart's high school titles.
"I have a great feeling for this gym," Smart said. "It felt great coming back."
The Cowboys led for nearly the entire game, though Texas cut the advantage to six at 36-30 on a Jaylen Bond layup assisted by DeMarcus Holland. But Smart proved to be too Johnny-on-the-spot. He nailed a floater just 10 seconds later, then canned a three-pointer to stretch the lead back to double digits. Texas was never within single digits again, with the Cowboys stretching the lead to a high of 19 points just before the five-minute mark.
Markel Brown chipped in 17 points and six rebounds, while Le'Bryan Nash had 14 points, nine boards and three assists. The Cowboys were dominant on the glass, grabbing 46 rebounds to Texas's 34, and at the free throw line, making 26-of-39 freebies to 12-of-21 for Texas.
Texas coach Rick Barnes said he was embarrassed and frustrated by the team's performance.
"I'd add baffled to it because I wish I could show you the way we practiced the last few days," Barnes said. "I think that's what you would say, too. Why? I can't explain it. Other than when the lights come on - on the court, we don't play the same way. I can't explain it. Someone asked about confidence. When you're turning the ball over and doing things like that, I can't answer it. I don't see it. I don't understand it."
Ioannis Papapetrou continued his strong run of play from the four position. He scored 15 points, grabbed seven rebounds, dished out four assists, made four steals and had two blocks to just two turnovers. Demarcus Holland scored a career-high 13 points while playing 35 minutes off the bench.
"When we lose a game we are going to be frustrated," Papapetrou said. "More than frustrated, we are embarrassed. We are angry at ourselves and blame ourselves for this loss. We are going to get better and Wednesday we are going to be a full team."
With Kansas's loss, Oklahoma State (17-5, 7-3) is tied for second in the Big 12 behind Kansas State. Texas (10-13, 2-8) has now played out the terms of point guard Myck Kabongo's suspension. Kabongo will be back in the fold for the Longhorns' next game, a home contest against Iowa State Wednesday. Tip off is set for 7 p.m.