Oklahoma State has struggled in Big 12 play since the loss of Michael Cobbins as the Cowboys aspirations went from title hopes in the conference to just getting in the field of 68.
After seven straight losses in the conference, Oklahoma State (17-10, 5-9) finally got back on the right track with an 84-62 win over Texas Tech (13-14, 5-9) at home on Saturday.
Returning from serving a three-game suspension for an incident involving shoving a Texas Tech fan earlier in the month, sophomore guard Marcus Smart gave the Cowboys a much needed infusion of balance and ability as he went for 16 points, 10 assists and six steals.
But it was the balance of the Cowboys’ offense that was impressive. LeBryan Nash went to work in the post, going for 21 points on 7-for-8 shooting while Phil Forte had 20 points, Markel Brown added 11 and Kamari Murphy added 10 points.
With four potent scoring options — and five starters — each contributing at a steady rate, Oklahoma State looked much better than its recent play had suggested as they didn’t force many looks and did a great job sharing the ball.
When Marcus Smart and Markel Brown are able to get others involved by attacking off-the-bounce, that is when Oklahoma State can get dangerous. The Cowboys have an uphill climb out of this recent slide, but the win on Saturday was a positive start and they have another winnable game against TCU until tough games with Kansas, Kansas State and Iowa State before the Big 12 Tournament.
Can the Cowboys and Smart win some games against great competition and regain their early-season form? It’s possible by the looks of it against Texas Tech. Oklahoma State will still miss Michael Cobbins inside, but its offense is still very potent and balanced if they’re moving the ball.
No. 15 Cincinnati pounced on Memphis from the start, taking a 51-32 lead into halftime.
Then, Gary Clark decided to add insult to injury to start the second half. Seriously, how did he catch that?
Mick Cronin’s team is much better offensively than in previous seasons. I’m sure fans in the Fifth Third Arena can get used to seeing more plays like this.
Michigan State freshman guard Cassius Winston had just one field goal in the first half. And it was a half-court buzzer-beater as the Spartans capped a sizable run to take a 49-31 lead over Nebraska going into the break.
The Spartans ended the half on a 21-5 run.
Winston provided a serious boost off the bench during that stanza. Moments earlier, he helped the Breslin Center erupt when he lobbed a pass off the backboard to teammate Miles Bridges.
Michigan State opened the day projected as one of the final at-large bids in the NCAA Tournament. The margin for error is thing and it appears the Spartans are playing with a sense of urgency.
Wednesday’s slate of games had several wild results.
Former Ohio State walk-on turned blogger turned author Mark Titus, who is currently writing for The Ringer, joined Rob Dauster on the latest episode of the CBT Podcast to go over last night’s games. The two also discussed who is the best team in the nation at the moment, as well Frank Mason III’s rap single from several years ago #BIFM
You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher and Audioboom
North Carolina’s Roy Williams called fellow Hall of Fame coach Rick Pitino to apologize for a fan’s behavior during Wednesday night’s game in Chapel Hill.
While leaving the floor at halftime, Pitino had to be restrained by members of the Louisville coaching staff and he and a UNC fan exchanged words as he made his way to the locker rom. There’s video of Pitino pointing and shouting at a fan, who reportedly said, “Pitino, you suck!”
“I don’t like that,” Williams said, according to the Charlotte Observer. “I mean we’re in North Carolina. We don’t have to be like everybody else. We can raise Cain. You can boo, but you don’t have to say the stuff that we as coaches have to put up with.”
“I hope that never happens at North Carolina ever again.”
No. 8 North Carolina defeated No. 7 Louisville, 74-63.
STILL TO PLAY
Georgia at Alabama (RPI: 68, KenPom: 61, next four teams), 7:00 p.m.
Nebraska at Michigan State (RPI: 43, KenPom: 55, No. 10 seed), 7:00 p.m.
Towson at UNC Wilmington (RPI: 41, KenPom: 57, No. 12 seed), 7:00 p.m.