By Jeff Latzke
The Associated Press
STILLWATER — Marcus Smart scored 15 points, Markel Brown added 13 and No. 23 Oklahoma State bounced back from its first loss of the season to beat South Florida 61-49 on Wednesday night.
Smart, the Cowboys’ playmaking freshman, nailed a 3-pointer from the left wing to launch a 16-5 run that put Oklahoma State (6-1) in control in the second half. He finished it off by hitting another 3, then making a quick steal in the backcourt before setting up Brown’s layup for a 48-34 lead with 7:29 remaining.
The Bulls (5-3) couldn’t get closer than nine points after that.
Victor Rudd had 14 points for South Florida, and Anthony Collins scored 12. The Bulls were held to a season-worst 34 percent shooting and had their lowest scoring game of the season.
Philip Jurick grabbed a career-best 14 rebounds as Oklahoma State held a 41-28 edge on the boards, turning it into a 19-7 advantage in second-chance points. Le’Bryan Nash, the Cowboys’ leading scorer with a 19-point average, ran into some minor foul trouble and had only six points — four coming on free throws in the final 2 minutes.
Nash, who had scored in double digits in 15 consecutive games dating to last season, attempted just four shots.
The missing offense didn’t matter nearly as much with Oklahoma State’s defense returning to form after Virginia Tech shot 50 percent in the second half while beating the Cowboys 81-71 on Saturday. That amounted to 16 more points than any other opponent had scored against OSU this season.
The Cowboys clamped down, limiting South Florida to two baskets over the final 12 minutes of the first half but still led only 24-22 when Shaun Noriega made a 3-pointer to start the second half for the Bulls.
Oklahoma State had an answer every time the Bulls pulled within a basket, and Smart finally sparked the run that put it away.
South Florida has scored less than 60 points in all three of its losses this season, and won each time it surpassed that mark. The Bulls had gone with different starting lineups for the first seven games this season, but doubled up for the first time and got Musa Abdul-Aleem back for the first time after he missed the start of the season with a foot injury.
The Cowboys moved ahead to stay with a 9-0 run midway through the first half that immediately followed a string of three straight layups by USF. Kamari Murphy found a cutting Smart for a layup to get OSU’s response going, and Phil Forte made a 3-pointer to make it 18-11.
For local news and more, subscribe to The Norman Transcript Smart Edition, or our print edition.