Gonzaga coach Mark Few called Oklahoma State freshman guard Marcus Smart “an all-time great” after watching his Bulldogs earn a gritty road victory in Stillwater today thanks in part to a pair of missed free throws from Smart in the waning moments.
Smart went to the line with 8 seconds left and a chance to tie the game and possibly send it to overtime, but he missed both free throws in what certainly will be a big learning experience for the young star. Smart didn't make those free throws but he made plenty of other plays, giving his team a chance to upset the the 10th-ranked team in the land.
While Few might have been a little generous anointing Smart among the all-time greats, the freshman is certainly looking like a future All-American. Smart finished with 23 points, six assists and four rebounds, using his size and athleticism to play on the perimeter and around the basket effectively.
The 10th-ranked Bulldogs began perhaps their toughest stretch of the season with a 69-68 win over the No. 22 Cowboys in Stillwater, giving them five victories in five games this season against Big 12 teams. Gonzaga previously defeated Baylor, Kansas State, Oklahoma and West Virginia and improved to 13-1 today.
Maybe Gonzaga and Kansas can arrange a meeting in the tournament in March, giving the Bulldogs and opportunity to prove whether they really own the Big 12.
The win over the Cowboys was the first of five road games in six outings for Gonzaga, which begins West Coast Conference play Thursday at Pepperdine. While the Bulldogs have played an impressive schedule once again, the win over OSU was just their second against a ranked team so far this season.
As good as Smart was for the Cowboys, Gonzaga guard Kevin Pangos was every bit the playmaker for the Bulldogs. He followed up a 31-point performance against Baylor with 23 points, five assists and four rebounds today in a game-high 39 minutes.
Kelly Olynyk, the Bulldogs' 7-foot center, frustrated Oklahoma State throughout the second half exposing a weakness in the post for the Cowboys. Olynyk scored all 21 of his points in the second half. He has scored in double figures in nine consecutive games.
Follow Kyle on Twitter @KyleRingo
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