Cowboys take slim win over Iowa St.
BY KELLY HINES World Sports Writer
Thursday, January 31, 2013
1/31/13 at 7:39 AM
Related story: OSU basketball notebook: Streak continues.
STILLWATER - Marcus Smart patiently dribbled around the wing for nearly 15 seconds, and after getting a pair of screens finally attacked.
He drove into the lane, soared and released. The ball bounced off the glass and swished through the net.
"Coach (Travis) Ford said to get to the basket if it's there," Smart said. "My defender let up on me and I just took him and made a tough shot. But it was a big shot for my team."
The shot with three seconds left eventually won the game for Oklahoma State, which edged Iowa State 78-76 in a thriller at Gallagher-Iba Arena on Wednesday night.
The drama of a game in which the lead changed 15 times didn't stop there. After a Cyclone turnover, a foul was called on Le'Bryan Nash, and Chris Babb was sent to the free-throw line for an Iowa State one-and-one.
As Babb was preparing to shoot, an official realized the potential error and after much discussion changed the ruling: because it was a player-control foul, the Cyclones should inbound the ball instead of shooting the free throw.
"I'm glad they figured it out," Ford said. "I don't know if he fouled or not, but what a crazy deal. I guess we were a second away from him shooting free throws."
The Cyclones' last-second attempt fell short, and the Cowboys (14-5, 4-3 Big 12) escaped after never leading by more than the final margin.
"It was a good win for our basketball team," Ford said. "We figured out how to win on a night when we didn't play particularly well and played against a team that played really well."
Iowa State (14-6, 4-3) and its dangerous 3-point shooters torched OSU in the opening minutes, forcing Ford to change defenses and switch to a smaller lineup.
"I know we left them open sometimes, but all I see right now is just 3s going in," Ford said. "I don't remember them missing. ... When they're shooting like that, they're tough to beat."
The Cyclones led by nine early and by seven late in the first half, until Smart drained a buzzer-beater from beyond the half-court line to trim the deficit to 41-37.
After seven unanswered Iowa State points, the Cowboys went on a 15-3 run that included two 3-pointers from Phil Forte and two free throws from Nash that gave OSU its first lead.
In the final 12 minutes, neither team led by more than four points. Every swing in momentum was short-lived.
"We were right there, but every time we'd try to get over the hump, they'd pull us right back down," Smart said. "This team has been through a lot of adversity, and that's when that experience comes in.
"It helps you become stronger and you just fight through it. That's what we did tonight."
With less than two minutes left, the Cowboys were down 76-72, and a missed shot by Markel Brown resulted in an Iowa State rebound. Instead of getting back on defense, Forte snatched the ball out of Melvin Ejim's hands.
"That play was the biggest of the game," said Smart, Forte's high school teammate. "He just ripped the ball from the guy who was about a good 6 or 7 inches taller than him."
Between that steal and another one 30 seconds later, Forte was fouled twice and converted three free throws. On the other end, Michael Cobbins was fouled while rebounding and hit a free throw to tie the game. The Cyclones missed a layup, setting up Smart's big play.
OSU's freshman phenom concluded the evening with 21 points, six rebounds, seven assists and four steals - plus a half-court buzzer-beater and the game-winning shot.
"I think (Smart) is one of the best players in the country," Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg said. "He is a winner. He makes big plays when they matter most."
At Kansas 3 p.m. Saturday
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Original Print Headline: Cowboys take slim win over Iowa St.
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Oklahoma State guard Phil Forte (left) drives around Iowa State forward Georges Niang during their OSU's 78-76 win Wednesday. SUE OGROCKI/Associated Press