San Jose, Calif. — Oklahoma State’s most successful men’s basketball season in almost a decade…came to a close Thursday in the bay area of California. The Oregon Ducks outhustled, outrebounded and outworked the Cowboys almost from the outset in eliminating the Cowboys 68-55 at the HP Pavillion in San Jose. Oregon came into the game with a gutsy reputation as a bunch of tough guys who led the Pac-12 Conference in rebounding…and they proved it by pounding OSU on the glass the entire game.
While the Ducks were sloppy with the basketball (18 turnovers), they more than made up for the mistakes by getting so many second chances on offense. A grabbed air-ball and a lay-up at the halftime buzzer gave Oregon a 37-26 lead and the Ducks increased it to their widest margin (49-33) with 15-minutes to play. OSU tried to rally, but the shots just weren’t falling. Junior guard Markel Brown led the Pokes with 16 points but he missed a wide-open “3” with just under 2-minutes to play which would’ve cut Oregon’s lead to under 10 points.
OSU’s all-everything freshman Marcus Smart was contained much of the afternoon by the aggressive Oregon guards…but still, the Big 12 “Player Of The Year” managed to fill the stat sheet (again) with 14 points, 9 rebounds, 5 steals and 4 assists in what could very well have been his final game in a Cowboy uniform. Smart is expected to be a top five pick in this summer’s NBA draft if indeed he chooses to turn pro early – a decision that won’t be made for a month or so. Markel Brown could also leave school a year early and Le’Bryan Nash (10 points) has been toying with the idea of departing before his eligibility is used up as well.
For the record, the Cowboys 24 victories is the most since Travis Ford has been the head coach and the most overall in a single-season since the 2004-05 Cowboys of Eddie Sutton finished with 26 wins. Oregon was the first of two #12 seeds from the Pac-12 to score upset wins Thursday as Cal-Berkeley knocked off UNLV also in San Jose.