Smart was nearly unstoppable in the first half, picking up where he left off last Tuesday when he scored a career-high 39 points as the Cowboys defeated then No. 11 Memphis inside Gallagher-Iba Arena. Against South Florida, the sophomore guard scored 23 points in the first half – including a 55-footer at the buzzer for three points – to give the Cowboys a 51-35 halftime lead.
He would only score two more points the rest of the game, finishing with 25 points, 4 rebounds, 4 steals and 3 assists. But Smart had already done his share of damage and was prepared to let Brown, Le’Bryan Nash, Brian Williams, Phil Forte and the rest of the Cowboys put the finishing touches on the fifth consecutive win to open the season.
Brown’s stat line was impressive with 25 points (14 in the second half), 8 rebounds, 7 assists, 3 blocks and 2 assists.
“I thought that Markel Brown played one of the best games that I’ve seen anybody play in a long time,” Cowboys head coach Travis Ford said. “His overall stat line and what we asked out of him, he played a lot of point guard for us, his stat line was one of the best stat lines I’ve seen in a long time. You’ve got to give him a lot of credit for the way he played.
“In the first half Marcus was really getting some nice shots around the rim, physically kind of overpowering South Florida. In the second half I think he distributed it a little bit more, (as) Markel got hot, Phil Forte was hot.”
Also scoring in double figures for the Cowboys in the 26-point win were Nash (15 points), Williams (13) and Forte (11).
Williams also impressed his head coach with 13 points (8 in the second half), 5 rebounds (4 on the offensive end of the floor), 3 steals and 2 assists in 33 minutes.
“Brian Williams was terrific. His energy really gets our team ignited,” Ford said. “He’s really playing and understanding his role on our basketball team, taking the ball to the rim extremely hard, rebounding, defending. He’s doing a lot to effect the basketball game, and that’s what we want out of Brian Williams. For him to go out and play like he did on the road tonight, I’m very proud of him.”
The Cowboys have now scored 90 or more points in each of their first five games, which is the first time in the history of the program that the team has surpassed the 90-point mark in five consecutive games.
“This was a great road win for us. Our guys were very focused. It was a great team effort,” Ford said. “When you’re on the road you get them any way you can. I’m very proud of our team.”
The Cowboys played without freshman Stevie Clark, who was sent home from Florida earlier Monday and is suspended from the team.
OSU will remain in Florida throughout the week to participate in the Old Spice Classic tournament in Orlando. The Cowboys open play in the tourney at 11 a.m. Thursday against Purdue.