Sunday, February 25, 2018
Sports

USF overwhelmed by Oklahoma State's depth

TAMPA — A smattering of local celebrities, including Lou Piniella and Gerald McCoy, presumably were lured Monday to the Sun Dome to see how unbeaten USF matched up against one of college basketball's marquee names.

They got more than a one-man performance. Turns out, Oklahoma State sophomore Marcus Smart is part of a dazzling ensemble.

Smart and senior Markel Brown each scored 25 as the No. 5 Cowboys rolled to a 93-67 triumph in front of 6,240. Three others also reached double figures for OSU (5-0), the first team to score at least 93 on the Bulls since Providence in February 2010.

"(Smart) is arguably the best player in the country, and yet they have some more guys with him," Bulls coach Stan Heath said. "They looked like a team that was in mid- to late-season form, and they were firing on a lot of cylinders."

When the Cowboys found their flow, USF (4-1) simply couldn't keep up. OSU shot 50 percent from the floor (33-for-66), hitting nine 3-pointers. The longest: a Hail Mary just beyond the half-court line by Smart at the first-half buzzer, giving the Cowboys a 51-35 lead.

The 65-foot prayer gave him 23 points at the half. His other 20 came on a smorgasbord of breakaway dunks, tip-ins and baseline drives.

"That guy's a pro, he's a flat-out pro," Heath said. "He was a pro last year. How the heck he came back to school, I have no idea, but he did and he's a pro this year. … That's what you're watching out there, an NBA guard."

Initially, USF kept things competitive, if not close. The Bulls took a 12-11 lead when point guard Anthony Collins found 6-foot-10 senior John Egbunu (15 points, eight rebounds) for consecutive alley-oop dunks. But OSU scored the next 10.

Brown had eight of those points, including two 3-pointers. For the night, he made 5 of 6 3s.

"Brown is probably the best player on their team overall," said Bulls senior Victor Rudd (14 points, four rebounds). "He was high on our scouting (report). … We knew what he was capable of. He knocked down a lot of tough shots."

The Cowboys took their first 20-point lead, 67-47, on Brown's putback dunk with 14:24 to play. At that point, USF had strayed from consistent ball movement, regressing into one-on-one play and getting flustered by OSU's collection of quick hands.

Collins, the Bulls' most seasoned guard, finished with twice as many turnovers (six) as points. Meantime, USF's lack of cohesion resulted in a 2-for-11 effort from long range in the second half and a 39 percent overall shooting effort (23-for-59) for the game.

But mostly, this night was more about the Cowboys' superiority than the Bulls' shortcomings.

"We got beat by a better team and we had segments in the game where we stalled offensively," Heath said. "We forced some shots and they took advantage of that."

     
 
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Published: 02/24/18