Marcus Smart, Georges Niang

VIDEO: Marcus Smart’s two buzzer-beaters knock off Iowa State

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Marcus Smart was already thought to be one of, if not the nation’s freshman this season, and he didn’t dissuade anyone from that opinion on Wednesday night.

Smart went for 21 points, seven boards, six assists and four steals while shooting 9-15 from the floor to lead Oklahoma State to a 78-76 win over Iowa State in Stillwater.

His biggest shot came with 3.1 seconds left, after the Pokes had erased an 11 point second half deficit. With the game tied on the final possession, Smart came off of a high-ball screen, shaking free from Will Clyburn and hitting a floater off the glass over Georges Niang.

(CLICK HERE: For video of Smart’s game-winner.)

That set up one of the weirder endings you’ll see this season.

After Le’Bryan Nash used the foul that Oklahoma State had to give, the Cyclones turned the ball over on the inbounds. But on the ensuing inbounds pass, Nash was called for a foul battling with Chris Babb for position. As Babb was getting set to shoot a 1-and-1, the officials huddled and ruled that since Nash didn’t have possession of the ball, it was a player control foul and that Iowa State should get the ball out of bounds. Tyrus McGee missed a prayer at the buzzer that would have won the game.

This was a key win for an Oklahoma State team looking to add a bit of padding to a thoroughly mediocre resume. Avoiding 3-4 in league play was important as well, as the Pokes are headed to Kansas on Saturday.

It makes you wonder: where would the Pokes have been if Marcus Smart hadn’t hit a 60-foot runner at the end of the first half?:

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Rutgers hoping new duo can bring a spark

of the Ohio State Buckeyes against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights during their Big Ten conference game at Rutgers Athletic Center on February 8, 2015 in Piscataway, New Jersey.
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Rutgers has struggled to achieve success on the floor the last few years and head coach Eddie Jordan is hoping that some talented newcomers can help start a turnaround. With the start of practice, local media saw some of the Scarlet Knights’ early practice and Jerry Carino of the Asbury Park Press noted that the duo of freshman point guard Corey Sanders and junior college forward Deshawn Freeman were getting a lot of burn together.

With both incoming players being four-star prospects, it’s hardly a surprise that Jordan would see what the two were capable of. According to Carino, it meant a lot of Sanders driving and forcing the defense to collapse before finding Freeman.

“It seems like coach always has us on the same team,” Freeman said to Carino. “Ever since we’ve gotten here, he’s trying to get us to play together.”

Carino also notes that since Rutgers is deeper, longer and more athletic in general this season, the team could do more with a pressing defense to help create turnovers.

While Rutgers still faces an uphill climb in the Big Ten, they at least have some exciting pieces that will be in place for a few seasons.

LSU looking into starting lineup options

FAYETTEVILLE, AR - MARCH 7:  Head Coach Johnny Jones of the LSU Tigers watches his team play during a game against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Bud Walton Arena on March 7, 2015 in Fayetteville, Arkansas.  The Tigers defeated the Razorbacks 81-78.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
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LSU football and Leonard Fournette are off to a strong start this fall, but the beginning of October also means that college hoops is right around the corner. If you’re a Tigers basketball fan, you also have plenty to be excited about on the hardwood this season with the arrival of a loaded freshman class headlined by forward Ben Simmons.

While the versatile Simmons has solidified a spot in the starting lineup for next season, it’ll be interesting to see how head coach Johnny Jones uses the rest of his talented freshmen. In a story from Sheldon Mickles of the New Orleans Advocate, he looks into some potential LSU starting lineups.

Freshman guard Antonio Blakeney, a McDonald’s All-American with Simmons, is also expected to start, but does another talented freshman guard, Brandon Sampson get a shot to start? And what of Arizona transfer Craig Victor when he’s eligible to play in December?

Mickles believes the early favorite for starting lineup is guards Tim Quarterman, Keith Hornsby, Blakeney, Simmons and center Darcy Malone. When Victor returns, Mickles said Victor could push Simmons into the “center” position, which would be a matchup nightmare on the opposition because Simmons would be very tough for many college centers to defend.

Sampson also gets a mention from Mickles of having the potential to start down the line. Overall, a good problem to have for Jones and he’ll have to experiment to see which lineups are giving him the most. Having a productive starting five is nice, but I’m sure Jones would love to find the five players he wants to close with.