Cyclones fend off Cowboys in 'heartbreaker'
BY KELLY HINES World Sports Writer
Thursday, March 07, 2013
3/07/13 at 7:59 AM
Related Story: OSU basketball notebook: ISU on bubble watch
AMES, Iowa - Within an 86-second span, Oklahoma State's comeback unraveled.
Before succumbing 87-76 to Iowa State in an electric Hilton Coliseum on Wednesday, the 13th-ranked Cowboys climbed out of their largest hole of the season and trailed by two with less than five minutes left.
Then came the Cyclones' response, in the form of a 10-0 run. They nailed a 3-pointer, forced a turnover, hit a layup, rushed an OSU shot and hit another trey.
"We never could get over the hump," Cowboy coach Travis Ford said. "That's because they (Iowa State) were playing really well together, playing hard, making plays."
Iowa State had much for which to play. A third straight loss might have burst its NCAA Tournament bubble, and six seniors didn't want that to happen in their home finale.
"You knew Iowa State was going to come out and play like a caged lion," Ford said. "They had a lot on the line. I didn't think we responded to that very well."
After jumping out to a 6-0 lead, OSU began to sputter on offense, with field goals few and far between. The Cyclones, meanwhile, rattled off a 16-2 run.
"They just came out fast, faster than us," Markel Brown said. "We started out 6-0, and I think we let that get to our heads a little bit.
"And they responded well. They came out and made shots, did what they were supposed to do."
In the first meeting, a 78-76 OSU victory and nail-biter in Stillwater on Jan. 30, the sharp-shooting Cyclones torched OSU with 13 3-pointers. This time, when the Cowboys tried to clamp down on the perimeter, Iowa State attacked and often wound up on the free-throw line.
"People are so worried about the 3-point line, they just go by people," Marcus Smart said. "They give a pump fake and (the defender) bites on it and they go right by."
Said Ford: "They kept driving us. When a team's going to shoot 35 free throws - and we were fouling them - it's going to be hard. It's hard to get back in a game when they keep shooting free throws."
With seven minutes left in the first half, OSU's deficit stretched to 15 on a Tyrus McGee jumper. And despite a few mini runs from the Cowboys, it was back up to 14 early in the second half.
"It did feel like we were down a lot more than what we were," Smart said. "And it felt like we were down forever.
"But this team has unbelievable heart. We fought."
Smart, playing on his 19th birthday, started to take over. Back-to-back steals resulted in a quick five points, and another pickpocket and dunk from Smart trimmed the lead to 70-68.
That's when Iowa State put the game away with its 10 unanswered points. Even when the Cowboys got a stop, their attempted rally was thwarted by offensive rebounds.
"Except for the first two minutes of the game, from that point on we were just trying to survive," Ford said. "Trying to scratch and claw back into the game the whole time."
Although Smart finished with 24 points, they were hard to come by. He hit eight fields goals on a season-high 22 attempts.
"I just kind of tried to take what the defense gave me," he said. "Some shots I probably shouldn't have took. It was just kind of an in-the-flow-of-the-moment thing."
In addition to his team-high eight rebounds and three assists, Smart tied a career-high with five steals, and each came at a short-lived crucial moment.
"They crushed us," Smart said. "I'd get a steal and they'd come back and score right after that. It was a heartbreaker for us."
OSU up next
Vs. Kansas State
12:30 p.m. Saturday
Radio: KFAQ am1170
Original Print Headline: Cyclones fend off Cowboys
Kelly Hines 918-581-8452
Iowa State forward Anthony Booker tries to knock the ball away from Oklahoma State guard Markel Brown (right) during Wednesday's game in Ames, Iowa. JUSTIN HAYWORTH / Associated Press
Iowa State guard Korie Lucious tries to stay in bounds after picking up a loose ball during Wednesday's game against Oklahoma State at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa. Justin Hayworth/AP