STILLWATER, Okla. - With the final 2.9 seconds of game time slowed to five minutes by two turnovers, two fouls and three officials reviews of the courtside monitor to check the correct time, Marcus Smart's game winner was drained of drama.
But let's make this clear: Smart entered Oklahoma State lore with his performance in Wednesday night's 78-76 victory over Iowa State.
Smart dribbled 22 seconds off the clock, turned the corner against the Cyclones Will Clyburn and bulled his way into the lane to score on a short banker. That shot book ended Smart's half-court, buzzer-beating three that ended the first half with the Cowboys trailing 41-37.
"He can take control of the game no matter the situation," Oklahoma State's Markel Brown said of Smart. "He puts us in a great position to win."
Smart, the Big 12's Preseason Freshman Of the Year, stuffed the stat sheet. He finished with a game-high 21 points, six rebounds, four steals and seven assists - with just one turnover - 38 all-out minutes.
"He's one of the best players in the country," said Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg, who was disappointed that the Cyclones' 17-game losing streak in Stillwater that dates back to 1988 continued. "Smart makes big plays when it matters the most."
The final play was designed for Brown to get free for a back door layup but that didn't materialize.
"We wanted the last shot and we wanted to get to the rim," Ford said. "I told him to drive it with seven seconds left. I told him get ... to ... the ... rim. I didn't want a pull-up three. He made a nice physical play."
Iowa State made 28 of 52 shots (52.8 percent) and topped that from 3-point range - 13 of 24 for 54.2 percent. The Cyclones' 17 turnovers was a neon-lit negative.
"We didn't make enough plays and I'm gonna look back at those 17 turnovers," Hoiberg said. "It's tough to lose like we did."
The Cyclones' shooting kept the Cowboys scrambling to gain control. Iowa State pushed its four-point halftime lead to 11 at 50-39 three minutes into the second half. Chris Babb, who led Iowa State with 19 points, failed to score over the last 16:24
"We changed defenses three or four times and the zone finally slowed 'em down," Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford said. "It's good to see us win a game like that. We didn't play well and the other team played great."
Oklahoma State had five players in double figures. Freshman Phil Forte, Smart's high school teammate, came off the bench to score 17 points with a career-high four steals in 34 minutes. His biggest theft came with 1:47 remaining.
The Cowboys trailed 76-72 and Brown misfired on a drive. Iowa State's Melvin Ejim grabbed the rebound but Forte wrestled the ball free and was fouled by Ejim. Forte made one of two free throws.
"That play was one of the key moments of the game," Smart said. "Phil's a competitor. He just took the ball from a bigger guy."
Iowa State failed to score over the last 2:16, coming up empty on its final six possessions.
After Smart scored the final points to prevent overtime, the final 2.9 seconds were played in slow motion.
First the officials checked the television replay to confirm that 3.1 seconds be placed on the game clock. With a foul to give, the Cowboys fouled Iowa State's Korie Lucious near midcourt. Iowa State then inbounded but Travis McGee caught the ball out of bounds.
The Cowboys then inbounded the ball toward its basket.
"We just wanted to bat the ball, get the clock started," Ford said.
Instead, Oklahoma State's Le'Bryan Nash was whistled for pushing Babb. Initially it appeared Babb would go to the line to shoot a one-and-one. The officials huddled and decided it was a player control foul and that meant no free throw attempts.
"I was mad about getting called for the foul," Nash said. "I'm glad the refs talked about it."
The foul, though, gave Iowa State possession again near mid-court. McGee caught an inbounds pass and fired from about 30 feet but his game-winning try came up short.
Winning obviously beats the heck out of losing, but particularly when the next opponent is Kansas (No. 1 in the coaches' poll, No. 2 in the media rankings). Winning in Allen Fieldhouse is a tough task but the Cowboys travel to Lawrence having won their last two at home. Iowa State (14-6) and Oklahoma State (14-5) are tied in the Big 12 with 4-3 records.
"This win magnifies the fact of how we can win if we stick together," Smart said.
"It's a great opportunity for our team," said Brown, who scored 10 of his 12 points in the second half. It can't hurt us, it can only help us. I want to go in there and get a big win."