Oklahoma St.-Butler Preview
While Marcus Smart turned in another 30-point effort, he's not the only player to reach that mark in the Old Spice Classic.
Smart will lead fifth-ranked Oklahoma State into Friday's semifinal matchup against the Bulldogs in a meeting of unbeaten teams.
The focal point once again will be on Smart, who had 30 points in 30 minutes Thursday in a 97-87 victory over Purdue. The superstar scored 24 in the first half before he was limited to 12 second-half minutes due to foul trouble.
"It was devastating to see that I wasn't out there to help my team out," Smart said. "Purdue was coming. They were making a run. I'm very proud of my teammates."
Smart famously decided to return to school for his sophomore season rather than enter the NBA draft. He created a buzz with his 39-point effort in a 101-80 rout of then-No. 11 Memphis on Nov. 19.
That effort and Thursday's represent the two highest-scoring games of Smart's career.
Smart is complemented by Markel Brown, who scored 25 for the second straight game and is averaging 19.3 points.
Oklahoma State, second in the nation with 99.7 points per game, is trying to open 7-0 for the first time since beginning 2006-07 with 11 victories.
Butler is 5-0 for the first time since starting 2008-09 with eight wins.
The Bulldogs only average 75.8 points but also have a strong 1-2 scoring punch with Dunham and Marshall.
Both had career highs Thursday as Dunham scored 32 points and Marshall scored 30 in Thursday's 76-69 win over Washington State. Dunham's total set a tournament record.
''My teammates did a great job of setting me up,'' Dunham said.
Marshall is a Florida native who played in his home state for the first time. He's averaging 23.3 points in his last three games.
When Marshall wasn't doing his damage inside, it was Dunham who took command from the outside with a career-high six 3-pointers.
''As it got close down the stretch, we had Kellen and Khyle make play after play on the offense end of the floor,'' said coach Brandon Miller, who is in his first year as he replaces Brad Stevens. ''When we're in tough situations, in tight knit situations, close game, these guys, they seem to come together and find ways to win games. As the game got tighter, these guys got better.''
Although the Cowboys won by 10 on Thursday, they were up by 23 at halftime and haven't been involved in many tight games with an average victory margin of 33.2.
''I'm glad that we won,'' coach Travis Ford said. ''We're happy with the win and we'll move on. It wasn't the prettiest thing. It's not the way you actually draw it up. It's great learning lesson for us. Teams are going to make runs.''
The Bulldogs won all four meetings with the Cowboys between 1932-34 when Oklahoma State was Oklahoma A&M.