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.