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November 25, 2013

Smart, Cowboys wrangle Bulls

TAMPA, Fla. — No. 5 Oklahoma State is unbeaten and has been barely challenged.

Marcus Smart and Markel Brown scored 25 points apiece and the Cowboys (5-0) cruised past South Florida 93-67 in another lopsided early-season matchup on Monday night.

It was Oklahoma State’s first game since a 21-point rout of then-11th-ranked Memphis, which had been expected be the Cowboys’ first real test.

“I thought we got just an incredible team effort by everybody. Everybody contributed, but I thought Markel Brown had one of the best games I’ve seen from an individual in a long time. You look at the stat line ... that’s an incredible performance,” Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford said.

In addition to going 5 of 6 from behind the 3-point and making 9 of 15 shots overall, the 6-foot-3 Brown had eight rebounds, seven assists, two steals, three blocks and no turnovers.

“We’ve been playing great basketball so far. ... We’re just trying to stay humble, trying to stay out of the media looking at all different sorts of things about how great this team can be,” Brown said. “Obviously, we know how great we can be. Whether we put it together is on us.”

There were eight lead changes in the opening minutes, however Smart put a big exclamation mark on a 23-point opening-half with a buzzer-beating shot from beyond half-court to put Oklahoma State up by 16 at halftime.

That was as close as South Florida (4-1) would get the rest of the way.

USF Coach Stan Heath said Oklahoma State showed once again that it is far from a one-man show.

“The thing that I was concerned about was focusing a lot of attention on Marcus Smart, knowing that several other guys are very, very good basketball players,” Heath said.

“Markel Brown, I think, is one of the more underrated players around the country. He really shot the lights out tonight. ... and we couldn’t rattle him, couldn’t force him into turnovers,” Heath added. “They look like a team that was in mid- to late-season form.”

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