Oklahoma State has spiraled out of the Top 25, and is now without star guard Marcus Smart.
Texas may be missing its own leading scorer.
After a confrontation with a fan led to Smart’s three-game suspension, the Cowboys will try to avoid a five-game slide and record their longest winning streak over the No. 19 Longhorns in 50 years Tuesday night.
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Oklahoma State (16-7, 4-6) has lost four straight to drop from No. 11 to out of the AP Poll. The Cowboys’ 65-61 defeat at Texas Tech on Saturday cost them much more than a spot in the national rankings, though.
Smart, third in the conference with 17.5 points per game and the leader with 2.3 steals, was suspended after shoving a Red Raiders fan in the final seconds. The sophomore guard fell into the crowd after attempting to block a shot, approached a fan who said something to him and pushed him with two hands.
The All-American was given a technical foul for the incident and the Big 12 banned him for three games Monday for "inappropriate conduct with a spectator."
"This is not how I conduct myself," said Smart, considered a lottery pick in this summer’s NBA draft. "This is not how the program is run. This is not how I was raised. I let my emotions get the best of me. It’s something I’ll have to learn from, a lesson I’ll have to learn from. The consequences that are coming with it – I’m taking full responsibility. No fingers pointing – this is all upon me."
Smart will miss this visit to Austin, a home matchup with Oklahoma on Saturday and a trip to Baylor two days later.
The Cowboys surely will miss him against Texas since Smart has averaged 19.3 points, 8.0 rebounds and 5.0 steals in three career meetings. He had 24 points, 11 boards, five assists and six steals in an 87-74 home win over the Longhorns on Jan. 8.
Oklahoma State hasn’t put together a longer winning streak in the series since a six-game run Dec. 10, 1955-Dec. 14, 1964.
Getting closer to that mark would require the Cowboys to avoid their longest skid since dropping six in a row Jan. 15-Feb. 2, 2008.
Added pressure will fall on Markel Brown with Smart out. Brown is second on the team with 16.6 points per game, but he was limited to a season-low eight Saturday. The senior guard was averaging 20.3 points on 48.8 percent from the floor – 8 for 18 from 3-point range – over the previous three contests.
He had a season-high 27 points on 8-of-13 shooting against Texas last month.
While the Cowboys deal with Smart’s absence, the Longhorns may have one of their own as they reportedly await MRI results on Jonathan Holmes’ knee injury.
Holmes scored the opening two points and played only nine minutes of Saturday’s 74-57 defeat at Kansas State, ending Texas’ seven-game winning streak.
The junior forward, who totaled 42 points and 20 rebounds over the two prior games, leads the team with averages of 13.1 and 7.4. He had 10 points and 12 boards in last month’s loss to Oklahoma State.
The Longhorns shot just 40.0 percent from the floor in that meeting – 3 for 18 from behind the arc. They’ve been much worse over the last two contests, hitting 32.7 percent against the Wildcats, four days after connecting on a season-low 31.0 in a 59-54 win at last-place TCU.
Coach Rick Barnes wasn’t happy with Texas’ shot selection Saturday, including a combined 5-for-19 effort and 12 points from Javan Felix and Cameron Ridley.
"I was baffled by some of the things that we did," Barnes said. "We were not shooting the ball well."
Freshman Isaiah Taylor is averaging 19.5 points over the past four games, 7.2 more than his season mark. His 17 points Saturday made him the only Longhorn in double digits.