Marcus Smart

As Marcus Smart and Oklahoma State struggle in Big 12 play, is Smart still the leader we think he is?

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Since Oklahoma State lost Michael Cobbins for the season with a torn ACL and began Big 12 play, sophomore guard Marcus Smart has struggled mightily to find his shot on offense.

The Cowboys now stand 4-4 in the Big 12 after Saturday’s stunning 76-70 loss at home to Baylor and Smart once again shot poorly from the field in the loss.

The Baylor game wasn’t an anomaly for Smart either.

In eight Big 12 games, Smart is shooting 34 percent from the field (36-for-104) and 20 percent from the three-point line (9-for-45). In the last four games — three of which were losses for the Cowboys — Smart’s numbers have plummeted even further as he’s shot 24 percent from field (13-for-53) and 10.7 percent from beyond the arc (3-for-28).

These numbers are troubling because Smart is forcing a lot of things on offense and the Cowboys aren’t winning. Of the four Big 12 wins that Oklahoma State has only one was against a potential NCAA Tournament team in Texas. The Cowboys took two from West Virginia and crushed TCU at home, but those are games they’re supposed to win.

Many that cover the college game are quick to call Marcus Smart among the best leaders in college basketball, but he simply hasn’t acted like one of the nation’s best leaders since Cobbins went down and Big 12 play began.

This isn’t a knock on Marcus Smart, the person, or to say he’s a bad player. The dude is still an absolute warrior in nearly every facet of the game and fills up the stat sheet on a near-nightly basis. Off-the-floor, Smart is as mature and thoughtful as it gets when it comes to dealing with the media. He’s often cited as being wise beyond his years.

But when you’re the unquestioned team leader, an All-American candidate and have the ball in your hands for the majority of the game, like Smart does, you can’t continue to force bad looks and play hero ball like the sophomore is currently doing and be called a great leader.

Why continue to chuck threes when Smart is as tough as any guard in the country to contain off-the-dribble? Smart can get in the lane and knife through traffic and score — or find shooters with crisp passes — more times than not, so why does he continue to force things so much with his field goal attempts?

Between the poor shot selection and the poor behavior against West Virginia, is Marcus Smart the leader that we all think he is?  The Cowboys are struggling to beat good teams and Smart is struggling to find his way.

If Marcus Smart wants to be among the best leaders in the country, he needs to be smarter about the shots he takes and when he takes them or Oklahoma State might be in big trouble in the Big 12.

VIDEOS: Rhode Island, Maryland exchange heated words in Cancun

Dan Hurley
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No. 2 Maryland finally found their rhythm on Wednesday night, blowing out a good Rhode Island team, 86-63, in the finals of the Cancun Challenge.

Melo Trimble and Rasheed Sulaimon combined for 34 points and eight assists on 13-for-14 shooting and Robert Carter added 15 points, nine boards, three assists and three blocks. Peak Maryland, which is what we saw tonight, is really dangerous.

But Peak Maryland wasn’t the story after the game, as tempers flared in the waning minutes.

It started when Maryland coach Mark Turgeon called a timeout with less than two minutes remaining. Jake Layman had just hit a three to put Maryland up by 24 points and Turgeon wanted to get his walk-ons in the game. Hurley said to the Maryland bench, “We’ll see you again, boy,” according to Inside Maryland Sports, which prompted this reaction from Turgeon:

After the game, the two teams had to be separated in layup lines. According to reports from IMS and from the Baltimore Sun, Hurley was cursing at Maryland players as he was shaking their hands after the game. According Doug Gottlieb, who called the game for CBS Sports Network, Trimble said that the Rhode Island team wanted to “fight us”:

Wayne Selden stars as Kansas wins the title in Maui

Wayne Selden Jr., Jeff Roberson
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The last time we wrote about Wayne Selden in this space, it was my colleague Scott Phillips who questioned, after a poor performance in the Champions Classic, whether or not Selden is capable of bring a primary scorer for a team with NCAA title aspirations.

At the time, it wasn’t an unfair question to ask.

Selden is a former top 15 recruit. He is a guy who was expected to go one-and-done that played poorly in the first big game of his third year on campus. But after three days it Maui, it appears that the old Wayne Selden is gone.

[MORE: Kansas got Cheick Diallo news today]

He capped an MVP performance in the Maui Invitational with 25 points and seven boards on 8-for-11 shooting as the No. 5 Kansas Jayhawks knocked off No. 19 Vanderbilt, 70-63, in the title game. Selden was terrific for the entire weekend, averaging 21.5 points in the two games against Division I competition and shooting 12-for-17 from beyond the arc in the three game tournament.

It was the best that we’ve seen Selden play during his Jayhawk career, and it came in a game the Jayhawks desperately needed it. Vanderbilt is a damn good team. They’re ranked 19th, which may actually be too low, and they seem to clearly be the biggest challenger to Kentucky in the SEC. They jumped out to a double-digit lead on Kansas in the first half as the Jayhawks seemed to be sleep-walking early in the game.

Enter Selden. He drilled three threes in the first half and scored 13 of the 26 Jayhawk points to keep them close. In other words, he played like a star on a night Kansas desperately needed someone to step up and play like a star. Remember: this is a dude that had enough talent and potential in high school to be considered a McDonald’s All-American and a potential lottery pick. The ability is there:

(That move is filthy.)

The question has always been whether or not he is capable of putting it all together, of being the guy that can be relied upon to make the big play in the big moment, to carry a team with title aspirations.

And to be fair, the jury is still out in that regard. Are we just going to ignore those four free throws he clanged down the stretch?

But seeing Selden have this kind of performance in a game like this against a team that is this good is unquestionably a positive for Kansas moving forward.