The jury is still out on whether Marcus Smart's decision to return to Oklahoma State for his sophomore season was—ahem, cough—intelligent. The player that surged to the top of awards lists and mock drafts as a freshman has looked lost at times this season, and then his ugly altercation with a Texas Tech fan that left him suspended for three games during a crucial time in the Cowboys' schedule didn't help.
But since Smart's return, he's looked like the same old Smart. Except, well, one thing:
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Smart usually wears No. 33, and is called "Smart" on his uniform. Monday against TCU, he wore this nameless No. 43 jersey. According to the Associated Press, the Oklahoma State equipment staff didn't repack the team's uniforms after its last road trip. Smart was suspended for that trip, and his jersey was left in Stillwater.
Still, the anonymous man wearing No. 43 looked a lot like vintage Smart. He finished with 17 points, eight rebounds, seven assists, five steals and three turnovers in the Cowboys' 76-54 win over TCU. Oklahoma State surrendered a big lead and eventually allowed TCU to within six points with nine minutes to play. Smart hit five threes in those final nine minutes to help the Cowboys pull away. In fact, he pulled them away himself.
In his return from suspension at home against Texas Tech, he had one of his best all-around games to date. He had 16 points, 10 assists, six steals, three rebounds and two blocks in an 84-62 victory. It was Smart's first career 10-assist game.
During the first four games of Oklahoma State's recent seven-game losing streak—the four games leading up to Smart's suspensions—Smart's production had dropped. He was 5 of 27 from 3-point range, and his five total steals eliminated an important part of his game that he uses to create offense for himself and his teammates.
His two opponents since returning from the suspension have not been the finest the Big 12 has to offer (though Texas Tech's near consecutive wins against Kansas, Iowa State, Texas and West Virginia should be mentioned in this space), his third game will be. On Saturday, Oklahoma State hosts Kansas.