Oklahoma State guard and Flower Mound Marcus alumnus Marcus Smart had a rough go at getting back into the flow of things in his first road game back from suspension.
The team’s equipment managers left his No. 33 jersey back in Stillwater, forcing him into a no-named, No. 43 jersey in the Cowboys’ trip to Fort Worth.
On the court, Oklahoma State’s leading scorer had just two points by halftime, but a second-half adjustment set Smart off and pushed Oklahoma State to a 76-54 win over TCU Monday.
Cowboys coach Travis Ford moved Smart to forward, flashing him in the middle of the floor in a soft spot of TCU’s zone.
The different look made all the difference for Smart as he went off for a total of 17 points, shooting 5 for 9 from 3-point range and adding seven assists.
“Basically, I thought Marcus did what he had to,” TCU coach Trent Johnson said. “He took the game over in terms of drawing and kicking and distributing.”
In the second half, Smart posted 15 points, shooting 5 for 5 from behind the arc. He pulled down five rebounds, dished out two assists and made three steals.
Johnson said Smart’s physicality down low and assists sparked the Cowboys’ offense.
TCU began the game defensively keyed in on Smart and was able to contain him through the first half.
Phil Forte, Smart’s high school teammate, lit up the Horned Frogs (9-18, 0-15 Big 12) in the opening frame, netting 16 points by going 4 for 6 on 3-pointers.
Forte finished with a game-high 23 points, shooting 50 percent from behind the arc.
“I thought we had to pick our poison,” Johnson said. “We lost Forte and he hurt us, but we did the best job we could possibly do in terms of guarding Marcus.”
Oklahoma State (18-10, 6-9) had another scoring threat in freshman wing Leyton Hammonds, a Richland alumnus and last year’s Star-Telegram Player of the Year.
Hammonds shot went 5 for 7 from the field, including 3 for 5 from 3-point range, for a career-high 13 points.
TCU managed to narrow the gap to six points with 9 minutes remaining in the game, but the Cowboys’ dagger came a few minutes later when Smart made a steal and dished to Forte, who hit a 3-pointer while falling into the bench. Forte then stole the inbounds pass and found Smart for another 3.
“We’ve experienced a lot of plays like that, a lot of special plays,” Forte said. “That’s one of the more unique plays that we’ve had together in the short span since we’ve been here. We don’t have much time left playing together [because of Smart’s likely entry into the NBA], so you kind of savor every moment.”
TCU junior guard Kyan Anderson led the Horned Frogs in scoring with 15 points, and freshman center Karviar Shepherd had his fourth double-double of the season with 11 points and 10 rebounds.
“I can’t say enough about what Kyan has done in terms of still trying to play through fatigue and keep everybody involved,” Johnson said.
For TCU, Monday is a memory quickly erased as the Horned Frogs try to find a brief reprieve before heading to West Virginia on Saturday in search of their first Big 12 victory.
“The kids need rest and we need to regroup and find a way to play better and find a way to try to get a win,” Johnson said.