Smart's Return Fuels Cowboys' High Hopes
Courtesy: Big12Sports.com
          Release: 11/07/2013
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By Wendell Barnhouse | wendell@big12sports.com
Big12Sports.com Correspondent


Story line
When Marcus Smart announced he would return for his sophomore season, Oklahoma State became an instant contender for the Big 12 title along with a dark horse Final Four team. Why? Because Smart is a force, a multi-skilled point guard selected as a unanimous preseason All-American and front runner to become national player of the year. Plus, the Cowboys have a deep and talented roster. Starters Markel Brown, Le'Bryan Nash and Michael Cobbins provide Smart with plenty of support. Junior guard/forward Brian Williams, a defensive demon, is healthy after missing 18 games last season.

Coach: Travis Ford, 104-64 in five seasons, 294-210 in 16 seasons.
Last season: 24-9 overall, 13-5 in Big 12, 3rd.
NCAA Tournament: Lost in second round.

Top players
Sophomore guard Marcus Smart, senior guard Markel Brown, junior forward Le'Bryan Nash, junior forward Michael Cobbins, junior guard/forward Brian Williams, sophomore guard Phil Forte, freshman guard Stevie Clark, sophomore forward Kamari Murphy.

Coach Ford says
"We talk a lot about understanding what our goals are and what we want to try to accomplish. Winning a Big 12 Championship is something that we strive to do. It's something we talk about, but we fully grasp that Kansas is still a team to beat. We understand the expectations of this team. Our guys hear it every day. But they have to understand expectations have never won anything for anybody."

Notable
Oklahoma State won 13 conference games for just the third time in school history. The Cowboys previously accomplished that in 1937-38 and 2003-04. … Marcus Smart set the school record for most assists (139) by a freshman. He shot 77.7 percent from the free throw line, also a school record for a freshman. … Smart also had 99 steals, a Big 12 single-season record for a freshman and his 58 steals in a Big 12 play was a single-season record, regardless of class. … Phil Forte had 68 3-point field goals an Oklahoma State record for a freshman. He also shot 91.3 percent from the free throw line and enters the season having made 27 consecutive free throws.

Season opener
Nov. 8 vs. Mississippi Valley State

Top nonconference games
Nov. 19 vs. Memphis
Nov. 28 vs. Purdue
Dec. 6 vs. South Carolina (Big 12/SEC Challenge)
Dec. 14 vs. Louisiana Tech (All College Classic)
Dec. 21 vs. Colorado

Conference opener
Jan. 4 at Kansas State

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