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.
The 6-foot-3 guard averaged 10.3 points per game, while shooting 42 percent from three, as a freshman. He, along with Malcolm Hill and Michael Thorne Jr., is one of three returning players who averaged double figures last season.
This could prove to be a make-or-break year for John Groce, who enters his fifth season at the helm. He guided the Illini to an NCAA Tournament in his first season, but hasn’t been back since.
The key for the Illini is health. Abrams gives them experience and leadership, but it won’t be a surprise if there’s some rust in his game after spending the past two seasons on the sideline. Having a healthy Coleman-Lands will help stabilize the backcourt, while Hill, an all-conference caliber forward, and Thorne anchor the frontcourt.
Like Alkins, Jones was a sought-after scorer. The 6-foot-4 two-guard was rated No. 69 overall in the Class of 2016 by Rivals. He picked Indiana over offers from Cal, Cincinnati, Georgetown and more than a dozen other high-major programs.
Jeter, the 6-foot-10, played in a reserve role as a freshman, averaging 1.9 points and 1.9 rebounds per game last season. He will be part of a loaded frontline that includes heralded freshmen Harry Giles and Marques Bolden, as well as redshirt senior Amile Jefferson, who returns to the lineup following a foot injury.
The greatest player in Auburn program history will honored with a statue outside of the team’s home arena.
The university announced that Charles Barkley, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer, will be the fourth athlete to be given a statue, joining Heisman Trophy winners Bo Jackson, Pat Sullivan and Cam Newton.
“It just means a great deal to me,” Barkley said in a statement. “Being a kid from Alabama, going to Auburn. I think everybody knows what Auburn means to me. It’s going to be pretty cool.”
Barkley, currently working as an analyst for TNT, was the SEC Player of the Year in 1984, as well as a second team All-American. He averaged 14.1 points and 9.6 rebounds per game in 84 appearances for the Tigers.