TAMPA, Fla. — The heat from the spotlight can be warm and in fact it could be right down hot, dangerous and not to mention blinding.
Monday night ,the University of South Florida men’s basketball team stepped into the spotlight of national television against the No.7 team in the nation.
Oklahoma State University with its potent offense, an aggressive defense plus with the special starlight of a superstar shining, the Cowboys arrived without too much fan fare. Then the Cowboys preceded to turned out the spotlight and defeated the University of South Florida 93-67, and the curtain came down on the Bulls’ four game unbeaten streak.
“Well that is an awfully good basketball team, we had some moments were I thought we could cut the lead down a little bit but they got a lot firepower,” University of South Florida basketball coach Stan Heath said. “The thing that I was concern about, was focusing a lot of attention on Marcus Smart knowing that several other guys are very, very good basketball players. Markel Brown is more of the underrated players around the country, he really shot the lights out.”
Quietly and efficiently, Cowboy’s superstar sophomore guard Smart scored 23 points in the first half and finished the game with 25 points and four steals but his backcourt team mate Brown also scored 25 points, eight rebounds and seven assist.
“We are really proud of our team tonight, we hung in there early and as I told the team, lets be patient, lets get loose,” Oklahoma State University basketball coach Travis Ford said. “First road game for us but we got an incredible team effort by everybody but Markel Brown had one of the best games that I have seen from an individual in a long time.”
“You look at the stat line and look at his stats and what he did for us,” Ford said. “We asked him to play point guard tonight and he did an incredible job.”
Smart brought the crowd of 6,240 to there feet when he launched a 65 foot shot just before the end of the first half came to an end-the ball hit nothing but net. Smart proved that he is ready for the spotlight.
“It is a backbreaker,” Heath said about the shot made by Smart. “He had a heck of a first half. In the last two games these first halves has been as good as any body that I’ve seen.”
The Cowboys scored 51 points in the first half and they proved that they have plenty of talent on the floor to make a lot of people and teams in the NCAA to turn their heads and pay attention to Oklahoma State University.
“It is hard to stop, them they got so many weapons to hurt you, they are not a one man team, they got a great player he is a great player,” Heath said. “He is arguably the best player in the country and yet they have some more guys with them and they look like a team that was in mid to late season form.”
The Bulls started the first half with plenty of energy on the floor and electricity from the stands inside the Sun Dome.
The offense tried to keep up with the Cowboys but Heath said that the offense bogged down.
“The thing that hurt us the most, is we got into a little bit of a one-on-one battle,” Heath said about the Bulls’ offense. “ The ball didn’t move side-to-side we were very stagnant, something that we hadn’t done in the previous games and it came back to bite us. A lesson learned for our basketball team. It is one game, it is a long season in front of us.”
The Bulls shot just 39 percent from the floor and were led in scoring by freshman center John Egbunu, he scored 15 points, he pulled in eight rebounds and he blocked two shots.
“Stan has some real good young players,” Ford said. “They are tremendous there stats speak for them we anticipated we were worried about their big men both of them are very talented. Big, skilled understand how to play we saw all of this on film and we are very impressed.”
Bulls’ freshman post player Chris Perry shot 4-of-6 from the floor for 10 points and he grabbed four rebounds in 17 minutes of playing time.
Ford said, that he thought that the Cowboys did a good job playing defense and forced the Bulls in making mistakes.
Oklahoma State University scored 23 points off of 16 Bulls’ turnovers, the offense shot 50 percent from the floor and out rebounded the Bulls 40-37. The Cowboys scored 16 second-chance points by crashing the offensive boards for 27 offensive rebounds.
“I told our team even after the game we beat a good team tonight,” Ford said. “I have a lot of respect for this South Florida team.”
The Bulls faded under the spotlight against the Cowboys but Heath is expecting the Bulls to recover in time and see the light for this Saturday night’s game against the University of Detroit.
The game against the Titans is scheduled to tip off at 7 p.m.
About the Author
Written by Mel Suiter
Graduated from Eastern Michigan University in 2002 and have been working as a beat writer for The Ypsilanti Courier covering Eastern Michigan University football and men's basketball during my school career and after graduation. I like the Mid-American Conference and the rest of the mid-major conferences.