Marcus Smart's unseemly reputation for flopping inspired Iowa State students to have some fun at his expense.
As the Ames Coliseum PA announcer introduced the Oklahoma State guard before Saturday afternoon's regular season finale for both teams, the Iowa State student section fell backward en masse to imitate the way Smart often exaggerates contact. One of the leaders of the student group known as "Cyclone Alley" passed out instructions for the stunt before the game.
The taunting of Smart continued throughout Iowa State's 85-81 overtime victory over Oklahoma State\. One Iowa State student unveiled a "Marcus Smart flop counter" that reached four by midway through the second half. The rest repeated the flopping stunt from pregame introductions every time Smart went to the foul line.
It's difficult to pinpoint exactly when Smart became known as college basketball's most notorious flopper, but the future NBA lottery pick has provided opposing fans ample ammunition the past few months.
He dove trying to draw a flagrant foul on Colorado in late-December. He recoiled as though he'd taken a Mike Tyson punch to the jaw after an elbow from Kansas' Wayne Selden grazed his mouth on Jan. 18. And he gave a Golden Globes-worthy performance bringing the ball up court in a Jan. 27 loss to Oklahoma, delivering a forearm shiver to Buddy Hield while simultaneously throwing his head back as though he had been the one who got hit.
The display that drew the ire of Iowa State fans was a rare double flop in the second half of last month's triple-overtime Oklahoma State loss to the Cyclones. Referees wisely did not fall for either of Smart's attempts to draw a charge on DeAndre Kane on that play, but they didn't catch on as quick in double overtime when he drew an elbow picking up Kane near mid-court and appeared to embellish the contact with a yellow card-worthy dive.
It seemed as though Smart would have the last laugh Saturday when he helped propel Oklahoma State into the lead late in regulation with nine points in three minutes including a go-ahead layup off a steal. Then Smart and Phil Forte both missed key free throws and Iowa State's Naz Long burned Oklahoma State for a second time this season.
In Stillwater, Long buried a game-tying 3-pointer with 1.4 seconds left, forcing a third overtime and giving Iowa State the chance to eke out a thrilling 98-97 road victory. On Saturday in Ames, the backup guard repeated the feat, forcing overtime with a long pull-up 3-pointer at the buzzer.
With Iowa State's Melvin Ejim already having fouled out late in regulation and Smart and Georges Niang both joining him with five fouls early in overtime, other players had to step up. It was Kane who did the most for Iowa State, scoring seven points in overtime including a go-ahead put-back of his own miss with 25 seconds remaining.
The narrow loss was Oklahoma State's first since Smart returned from his three-game suspension for shoving a Texas Tech fan three weeks ago.
Smart surely could have lived with the taunting for his penchant for flopping. What probably eats at him is that Iowa State fans now have bragging rights too.