If you were wondering how Oklahoma State would fare without sophomore guard Marcus Smart, who began serving his three-game suspension on Tuesday night in Austin, that was answered quickly when Javan Felix scored eight straight Texas points to stretch the lead to 22 with eight minutes to play in the first half.
The Longhorns would cruise to an 87-68 win over the shorthanded Cowboys. And it’s not like Texas was at full strength. Jonathan Holmes missed Tuesday’s game with a knee injury.
Felix scored a game-high 27 points including six 3-pointers. Cameron Ridley controlled the paint with 12 points and 13 boards. Le’Bryan Nash and Markel Brown — the two who need to step up in Smart’s absence — combined for 41 points, though Brown shot 4-of-14 (1-of-6 from three) on the night.
Without Smart running the offense, Oklahoma State shot 36 percent from the field. Instead the offense resulted in bad shots, and turnovers — 10 turnovers to six assists.
No. 19 Texas gets back in the win column after having its seven-game win streak snapped at Kansas State on Feb. 8. Oklahoma State, on the other hand, has dropped five straight, and the next two games will be just as difficult without Smart.
The Pokes have Oklahoma at home on Saturday then a road game with a Baylor team that is need of conference wins as well next Monday. If both of those games go like Tuesday’s blowout loss, Oklahoma State will sit 4-9 in conference by the time Smart returns for a rematch with Texas Tech.
On Selection Sunday, the committee will likely overlook this three-game slate. When the Cowboys get Smart back in the lineup, they’ll still have chances to bolster its resume in the beginning of March before the Big 12 tournament with games against No. 7 Kansas and on the road at Iowa State remaining on their schedule.
The Cowboys are reeling, and that slump began with Smart in the lineup. They’ll need him to figure it out during this week-long suspension because without the Marcus Smart who was a preseason All-American, Oklahoma State is in real trouble.
Cheick Diallo is currently practicing with Kansas, but his eligibility still remains in question.
On Monday, Kansas head coach Bill Self appeared on “The Border Patrol” on WHB-AM 810 and was asked to update the status of his freshman big man.
“He’s been cleared to practice,” Self told hosts Steven St. John and Nate Bukaty. “(His status) is depending on what they find throughout from the information we submit to them whenever we get it all together.
“A lot of people think, ‘Well, why wouldn’t it all be together?’ Well there’s a lot of reasons why. It’s because they told us recently some things that they just wanted. Instead of just throwing it to them piece by piece, they requested we to just submit it all together, so it may be a couple of more weeks before we’re able to submit everything when you’re talking about getting information from schools in Mali and everything like that.
“But we hope in two weeks, maybe three weeks, before we have a definite answer. But right now, Cheick is like everybody else. He’s practicing.”
Diallo, a 6-foot-9 forward from Mali is allowed to practice with the Jayhawks, but has been waiting to be cleared by the NCAA Eligibility Center despite enrolling in classes over the summer and earning six credits. Self anticipated this would be a long process, but has remained confident Diallo, the top-5 recruit in Class of 2015, will eventually be cleared to play this season.
For three years, Diallo attended Our Savior New American School in Centereach, New York, which is currently under NCAA review. In September, Pitt freshman Damon Wilson, Diallo’s teammate at OSNA, was cleared to play.
Kansas opens the season on Nov. 13 against Northern Colorado.
Last week, Albany senior Peter Hooley accepted the Inspiration Award at the Coaches vs Cancer Basket Ball in Troy, New York. The Albany athletic department uploaded his entire speech on Monday afternoon.
Hooley had one of the most uplifting moments of March after months and months of heartache.
The junior guard missed three weeks of the season to travel back home to Australia to be with his mother, who was battling colon cancer. She passed away in January. Hooley returned to the team in February and the following month, the Great Danes had a shot at an NCAA tournament berth. In the America East Tournament championship, Hooley sunk a game-winning shot with 1.6 seconds to go.
Hooley, who graduated in May, was selected to give the commencement speech.