KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Four observations from Oklahoma State’s 80-62 victory over Texas Tech in the first round of the Big 12 tournament:
Markel Brown falls hard, leaps high
After colliding with a Texas Tech screener, Brown dropped so abruptly half the arena instinctively presumed it was a Marcus Smart flop. (Guilty here.) He lied on the court clutching his face for several seconds before getting up and gesturing toward official John Higgins as though he’d caught a shoulder in the grill.
Minutes later Brown had recovered nicely, slamming home a double-pump reverse dunk—the most emphatic of his 18 points in the first half. For my money it supplanted the break-away 360 he threw down against West Virginia.
Smart back on track
The Cowboys point guard was once again assertive, bodacious and back to his boxscore-stuffing ways with 18 points, seven rebounds, seven assists and six steals.
“He’s more aggressive than his opponents,” said Texas Tech forward Jaye Crockett.
Just as importantly, Smart committed zero turnovers in 34 minutes. He may need to duplicate that performance on Friday when Oklahoma State, by virtue of slipping to the eighth seed, faces regular-season champion Kansas in a quarterfinal matchup that pairs the preseason co-favorites.
Foiled in the first half
The Red Raiders were very good … for three minutes. They led 8-0 out of the gate to spark an upset buzz before OSU countered with a 23-4 run. The game wasn’t competitive thereafter.
Statistical evidence of how bad Tech slumped in the first half: It had 14 turnovers and 10 baskets at intermission.
Tubby’s not talking progress
Considering none of his previous 22 teams posted a losing record, Tubby Smith didn’t draw much consolation from Texas Tech’s 14-18 finish.
“We knew it was going to be a process, but we expected to win more games,” he said.
Yet the Red Raiders clearly were better—like 100-spots-in-the-RPI better from the previous year. They beat five NCAA-bound teams and improved their conference win total by three despite the Big 12 being stronger than ever.
Before Tech took the floor in Kansas City, a reporter quizzed Smith about his team having extra bounce coming off an upset of Texas. The coach’s retort: “We had a good win against Texas, so we’re 1-6 in our last seven games. That’s not a whole lot to be bouncy about.”
Smith highlighted the need to recruit perimeter shooters to Lubbock, but admitted there’s more to fix: “We’ve got to get better in all areas.”