With 6.2 seconds remaining in Oklahoma State’s 65-61 loss at Texas Tech on Saturday night, sophomore guard Marcus Smart shoved Texas Tech fan Jeff Orr after being taunted by Orr. Smart, who wound up close to the stands as a result of his challenging a Texas Tech layup attempt, was assessed a technical foul and removed from the game by head coach Travis Ford.
Smart apologized for his actions during a press conference on Sunday evening, and the Big 12 announced that he will be suspended for the Cowboys’ next three games. The first game Smart will miss is on Tuesday night, when the Cowboys visit No. 15 Texas.
“Mr. Smart’s actions were a clear violation of the Big 12 Conference’s Sportsmanship and Ethical Conduct Policy,” Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said in the release. “Such behavior has no place in athletics, and will not be tolerated. I appreciate the efforts of Oklahoma State University athletics director Mike Holder in addressing this matter, and believe this is an appropriate response to an inappropriate action.”
Smart will also miss games against Oklahoma and Baylor, with the first game he can play upon his return being the Cowboys’ home game against Texas Tech on February 22. There’s never a good time for a situation like this, and the fact that Oklahoma State is already down one guard (Stevie Clark, who was dismissed from the program) makes the loss of Smart even bigger.
Without Smart in the fold for the next three games it’s likely that fellow sophomore Phil Forte III moves into the starting lineup. However the next best playmaker for the Cowboys has been Markel Brown, who’s second on the team with an average of 2.6 assists per game. Forte’s averaging just 1.1 assists per game, with much of his work being done off the ball prior to this point.
Any way you slice it, this is a major personnel loss for a team that’s lost four in a row and five of its last six games. And without their best playmaker, Oklahoma State’s in serious danger of going from being ranked in the Top 10 to not even making the NCAA tournament. How well the Cowboys perform in Smart’s absence will determine their fate.