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Smart scores 25, No. 5 Oklahoma State routs USF

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TAMPA, Fla. (AP) - No. 5 Oklahoma State is unbeaten and has been barely challenged.

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Marcus Smart and Markel Brown scored 25 points apiece and the Cowboys (5-0) cruised past South Florida 93-67 in another lopsided early-season matchup on Monday night.

It was Oklahoma State's first game since a 21-point rout of then-11th-ranked Memphis, which had been expected be the Cowboys' first real test.

''I thought we got just an incredible team effort by everybody. Everybody contributed, but I thought Markel Brown had one of the best games I've seen from an individual in a long time. You look at the stat line ... that's an incredible performance,'' Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford said.

In addition to going 5 of 6 from behind the 3-point and making 9 of 15 shots overall, the 6-foot-3 Brown had eight rebounds, seven assists, two steals, three blocks and no turnovers.

''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.

That was as close as South Florida (4-1) would get the rest of the way.

USF Coach Stan Heath said Oklahoma State showed once again that it is far from a one-man show.

''The thing that I was concerned about was focusing a lot of attention on Marcus Smart, knowing that several other guys are very, very good basketball players,'' Heath said.

''Markel Brown, I think, is one of the more underrated players around the country. He really shot the lights out tonight. ... 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.''

John Egbunu led USF 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,'' 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.

''I was anxious to see how we would respond,'' Ford said. ''When they're locked in, when they're really locked in, we're a pretty good basketball team.''

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.

AP NEWS
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The Associated Press
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