in Hoops

Marcus Smart is better than you think

Photo Attribution: US Presswire

Photo Attribution: US Presswire

Since the inception of the Big 12 Kansas has played 133 home conference basketball games.

Three opposing players have scored 25+ in a win at Allen Fieldhouse.

Two of them played for OSU on Saturday.

Curtis Stinson dropped 29 for Iowa State in a 63-61 win at KU in ’05.

And obviously Markel Brown had 28 and Marcus Smart had 25 on Saturday.

The Markel thing we will tackle later because he is legitimately playing himself into an area that made me think for like 15-20 minutes on Sunday about whether or not I needed to worry about chanting “one more year” at him as well.

But right now I want to talk about Marcus Smart.

Back-flipping, offensive-rebounding, playmaking, ball-distributing, inexhaustible, unbelievable Marcus Smart.

In case you forgot, he just posted a 25-9-3-5 at Allen Fieldhouse against a #2 ranked Kansas team that many were saying was probably the best squad in the country.

And he owned the place. When Travis Releford hit his second free throw at 5:22 to make it 66-62 I thought “welp, it was fun, you know. It was a blast to roll with this sick KU team in their house for 35 minutes. Something to build on, and maybe we can take them at home.”

Then Smart went into “whose bleeping house is this again?” mode.

This is what the play-by-play looked like for the last 5:22…

Forte 3P (Smart assist)
Cobbins rebound
Cobbins dunk
Nash jumper
Markel block
Markel rebound
Smart rebound
Smart jumper
Smart steal
Smart rebound
Smart jumper
Markel rebound
Smart 2 FT
Smart rebound
Smart 2 FT
Nash 1 FT
Smart TO
Forte 2 FT
Smart 1 FT
Forte 2 FT
Smart steal
Forte layup (Smart assist)

In the last 5:22 Smart had nine points, three boards, two assists, and two steals. In the last 5:22.

It really was as absurd as it looks in print.

And for all the hype Smart received — top PG in the Big 12 according to CBS, +8 wins for OSU according to Fran Fraschilla — he’s really exceeded every expectation and thought we had about what he could be.

He is a short man’s Kevin Durant (Texas version).

Remember KD in Allen Fieldhouse his freshman year? 25 in the first half on whatever he wanted to do. I wrote freaking poetry about that game when I was in college. I was in love with Durant.

Well Marcus Smart did more on Saturday. He closed.

As the dull, haunting hum of Rock Chalk Jayhawk started to rumble in the distance at 66-62 with KU looking to do what KU does at home — end teams — Marcus Smart flipped the tables and clipped KU’s 33-game home streak.

And he did it with a breathtaking array of skills — like he was simply honing his craft at a pickup game in Rec Center, USA. He did anything he wanted against Self’s team, on Self’s court, and Self knew it.

He definitely whipped our guards. I mean, he whipped them.

Then he let them know exactly what he did.

I don’t even know how to quantify the performance really. I’ve been half-heartedly wondering to Nolo over the last month or so whether or not Smart’s the best player in the country. He really could be.

So what does that mean for the rest of the season? Could we win out? Could he Carmelo the tournament? Is this really happening?

All I know is this — that on Saturday night as 16,300 people filed silently out of Allen Fieldhouse and every last one of them knew who the best college basketball player in the country was.

He entered all right.

But he did not pay heed.

  • Nate

    Not ready to say he’s the best player in the country… Still needs to improve his outside shooting, but can’t really for sure say you’re wrong if you think he is. Top 5 no doubt.

    The backflip, by the way, was awesome in person. Didn’t expect it at all. But the other thing that was awesome, which I don’t know if it was caught on TV, was Markel spiking the living sh** out of the ball the same time Smart was doing a backflip. Such a great “eff you, we just beat you in your own backyard” moment.

  • Colin

    if the Thunder could somehow get Smart at #7…mother of god

  • OSU-Bill

    I was sitting three rows directly behind the Cowboy bench on Saturday, and I can testify that Smart’s put-back after Cobbin’s missed jumper was the most effortless yet physical move I can recall ever seeing from a guy his height. It’s like he plays 6 inches taller than he is.

  • Cincinnati

    So everyone is pretty much accepting that he is one and done? If so, God Bless young man – go and make a living. I just haven’t heard that much about his draft stock, and haven’t seen him play enough to say whether he can compete physically with Eric Bledsoe, or someone with the savvy of Jason Kidd.

  • tomg

    That performance reminded me of the time Chauncey Billups came in GIA as a freshman and went for forty. I was in GIA but couldn’t believe it happened. I felt the same way watching Smart finish off the Jay Hawks. I was so nervous KU would get a phantom call with no time remaining like they gave Randy Rutherford back in the day. Instead Smart picked him clean and made history.