December 31, 2012
Zags outlast Smart, Cowboys in Gallagher-Iba
Throughout the game, freshman Marcus Smart sported his Superman cape just like he had all season, but kryptonite found him just as the game wore down.
No. 22 Oklahoma State (10-2) fell to No. 10 Gonzaga 69-68 in Gallagher-Iba Arena on New Year's Eve.
The two squads started quick with the scoring beginning with Smart nailing a three-pointer from the left wing, but just as they did all night, Gonzaga answered with an offensive explosion on the other end.
"In the first half we kind of let them do what they wanted to do," Markel Brown said. "In the second half we got the ball out of Pangos' hands and made other guys do it."
The Zags were fueled by both Kevin Pangos and Kelly Olynyk. Pangos posted 21 points in the first half, while Olynyk put up his 21 points in the second.
But Oklahoma State figured it out as well, as Smart led the Cowboys with 23 points, 4 rebounds and 6 assists.
"He's a great player," Pangos said of Smart. "Defends really well and can score from anywhere. He's a competitor. He'll have a great career and he's just a great player."
Outside of Smart, Brown had a solid 16-point outing, and his mid-range jumper kept the Pokes in the game when Smart wasn't scoring. Phil Forte also had 15 points, which came from 5-8 shooting from three-point range.
After hanging around throughout the entire game, Smart drew Olynyk's fifth foul with eight seconds left in the game, and went to the free throw for two shots with his team down by two.
He missed both, and ultimately cemented the loss for the Pokes in front of the best crowd Gallagher-Iba Arena has seen in quite sometime.
"I was trying to make them," he said of the free throws. "But we thank the crowd for coming out. They could've stayed home. Thank you so much for coming."
Still reeling from the loss, the Cowboys will keep pressing on as they begin Big 12 play Saturday with a trip to Kansas State at 1:30 p.m. But before then, let's dive into what we learned tonight.
What we know
- This team is exactly who we thought they were. Resilient, tough, and good on defense. The bad part is that if they run into a tall, solid center, they're in trouble as Jurick and Cobbins couldn't handle Olynyk tonight. Outside of that, this team is solid.
- Marcus Smart is pretty good at basketball. So is Markel Brown. This team can do some damage with those two and Le'Bryan Nash on a scoring rotation like they've done so far this season.
- Gallagher-Iba can still be the home court advantage that it was back in the day. It was filled up early and loud throughout the game. Oklahoma State's marketing department has to figure out a way to keep it full.
What we still don't know
- Which player is Philip Jurick? He played excellent from time to time early in the year, but was iffy at best tonight against one of the best centers in college basketball.
- Can Forte keep it consistent? He's been a bit on and off this season, but has showed up when they need him. He's one of the keys to this team, and if he and Travis Ford can figure out a way to keep him scoring, it will allow this team to achieve their goals a lot easier than if he doesn't.
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