KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Marcus Smart left one last impression on Texas Tech, and in doing so made sure that Oklahoma State would get its high-profile showdown with Kansas in the Big 12 tournament.
It just happens to be in the quarterfinals rather than the championship game.
The sophomore guard finished with 18 points, seven rebounds, seven assists and six steals in a virtuoso performance Wednesday night, leading the seventh-seeded Cowboys to an 80-62 rout of No. 9 seed Texas Tech. It was the fifth win in six games for Oklahoma State, which along with the top-seeded Jayhawks was picked as one of the preseason favorites to win the league championship.
“We’ve had a lot of downfall this year and this season, but everything happens for a reason,” said Smart, whose team weathered his three-game suspension for shoving a Texas Tech fan, not to mention a seven-game losing streak that put Oklahoma State’s NCAA tournament hopes in jeopardy.
“When your back’s against the wall,” Smart said, “all you can do is lean on your teammates.”
Teammates such as Markel Brown, who scored 20 points, and Phil Forte, who had 14 off the bench Wednesday night. Le’Bryan Nash added 10 points in a game that was under control by halftime.
“I think our best basketball is still ahead of us,” Brown said.
Jaye Crockett led the Red Raiders (14-18) with 20 points, despite twisting his right knee and limping off the court in the first half. Dejan Kravic added 18 points and 12 rebounds.
“It’s just frustrating when you put so much into it,” Crockett said. “We got down, we weren’t following the rules coach wants us to stick to and we made dumb mistakes.”
The result was a season-ending loss for Texas Tech coach Tubby Smith, who had never had a losing record in 23 seasons coaching Tulsa, Georgia, Kentucky, Minnesota and now the Red Raiders.