Created: 11/25/2013 9:35 PM
(AP) TAMPA, Fla. - South Florida coach Stan Heath knew his team would have to do more than slow down Marcus Smart to have a chance to beat No. 5 Oklahoma State.
"They’re not a one-man team," said Monday night after Smart and Markel Brown showed he was right, scoring 25 points apiece to lead the Cowboys to another early-season rout.
"Markel Brown, I think, is one of the more underrated players around the country. He really shot the lights out ... and we couldn’t rattle him, couldn’t force him into turnovers," Heath added. "They look like a team that was in mid- to late-season form."
It was Oklahoma State’s first game since a 21-point rout of then-11th-ranked Memphis, which had been expected be a real test for the Cowboys (5-0).
In addition to going 5 of 6 from behind the 3-point line and making 9 of 15 shots overall, the 6-foot-3 Brown had eight rebounds, seven assists, two steals and three blocks.
"We’ve been playing great basketball so far. ... We’re just trying to stay humble, trying to stay out of the media looking at all different sorts of things about how great this team can be," Brown said. "Obviously, we know how great we can be. Whether we put it together is on us."
There were eight lead changes in the opening minutes, however Smart put a big exclamation mark on a 23-point opening-half with a buzzer-beating shot from beyond half-court to put Oklahoma State up by 16 at halftime.
"It was a little bit of a backbreaker," Heath said. "You get a score, you’ve got a little bit of momentum going, then with three seconds, he’s throwing one in from 60 feet away. ... He had a heck of a first half."
John Egbunu led USF (4-1) with 15 points and eight rebounds. Victor Rudd had 14 points and Chris Perry finished with 10.
"They’re going to win a lot of games, and we’re happy with this victory because I think we beat a good team tonight," Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford said.
Smart only took three shots in the second half and didn’t score until making a pair of free throws with 3:22 remaining in the game. By that time the lead was up to 89-63, Smart left the game and the only remaining question is whether Oklahoma State would score over 100 for the third time in five games.
The Cowboys began the night averaging 102 points after beating Mississippi Valley State, Utah Valley, Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Memphis by an average of 41 points per game.
Smart scored a career-high 39 points during last week’s 101-80 victory over Memphis, helping his team climb two spots in the latest rankings. Oklahoma State will spend the rest of the week in Florida, where it will play three more games in the Old Spice Classic at Disney World, beginning with a Thanksgiving Day matchup against Purdue.
Le’Bryan Nash scored 15 points and Brian Williams had 13 for Oklahoma State. Smart finished 8 of 16 from the field and had four assists, four steals and three rebounds.
"They’re definitely beatable. They shot real good today," Rudd said. "Markel Brown hit a lot of 3s today, but they’re definitely beatable."
The 6-foot-4 Smart, who decided to remain in school rather than enter the NBA draft after the Cowboys’ early exit from the NCAA tournament last season, made 8 of 13 shots in the opening half. The only 3-pointer he made came on a heave from beyond midcourt to finish a 14-5 spurt that opened a 51-35 halftime lead.
South Florida, which was unbeaten through four games for only the eighth time in the program’s 43-year history, fell to 5-39 against ranked opponents in seven seasons under coach Stan Heath. The Bulls have only been 5-0 or better twice, the last time 12 years ago.