Three weeks ago, Kendall Smith wasn’t acquainted with the Bedlam series.
The Antioch, California, native wasn’t familiar with the in-state rivalry between Oklahoma State and Oklahoma, and the stakes involved with each contest, no matter the sport. It simply wasn’t on his radar, even when OSU lost in Norman in early January.
Fast forward less than three weeks, the OSU graduate transfer propelled himself into Bedlam lore. His game-tying shot behind the arc near the end of regulation sent the game into overtime, where the Cowboys eventually hung on to defeat their rivals in front of a sold-out Gallagher-Iba Arena.
Smith was a big reason why, along with senior Jeffrey Carroll and junior Tavarius Shine, the Cowboys were able to win their Bedlam home game – thus splitting the season series. The Cowboys survived a possible last-second, game-tying shot by star OU freshman Trae Young and won 83-81 in overtime.
“I’m really, really happy for my kids, because they continue to show what they’re about and who they are as people,” OSU coach Mike Boynton said. “They keep fighting for each other and keep fighting for the culture we’re trying to build, keep fighting to try to help people understand that we’ve got a pretty good basketball team. We can compete with anyone in the country and we talk about that every day.”
Smith admitted he didn’t know anything about the Bedlam rivalry prior to the first Bedlam game – a 108-89 loss – but he soon learned about it following the game. It was one of his worst of the season, shooting 3 of 10 from the field and scoring only six points.
Heading into Saturday’s matchup with the No. 4 Sooners, Smith took a different mindset. He wanted to give OSU fans something to celebrate during his one and only season on campus.
“Everyone here talks about the big OU/OSU rivalry,” Smith said. “Being from California, I don't know much about that. So, the first game, people say that we hate OU and things like that. I didn't have a passion or a real dislike for the university.
“Obviously, we respect them at a very high level. After the (last) game and seeing how that went, being able to come back and play in Gallagher gave me another level of passion. The rivalry was kind of instilled in me after the first game.”
Smith delivered in the clutch. Needing a 3-pointer to tie the game and forced overtime, Smith dribbled up court along the sideline, stopped and fired a quick 3 from the wing.
Swish! Game tied.
Young, who led all players with 48 points on 14 of 39 shooting, missed his first attempt to give the Sooners a last-second victory.
The extra period began with a Shine 3-pointer. He ended the game with 16 points, four assists and three steals when he fouled out late in overtime.
After four-straight OU points, Carroll, who led OSU with 23 points, drained a 3-pointer and Smith scored a layup to give the Cowboys the lead. Young tied the contest with a pair of free throws a minute later.
Seconds later, Carroll was fouled and sank both foul shots. OU missed several shots during the final 26 seconds before Young’s final heave from behind the arc.
The Sooners trailed by two with seven seconds remaining when they came out of a timeout. The Cowboys double-teamed Young with Smith and Carroll, forcing OU to inbound the ball to another player.
Young quickly caught the second pass and attempted to race up the court as he was being pressured. He bobbled the ball and took a final shot, but it missed everything.
“The chances of him not getting the ball are pretty slim, and when he gets it, he’s shooting it,” Boynton said. “The thought process is make him work as hard as he can, and make him constantly feel a sense of pressure on him. We didn’t want him to catch it on the run or with momentum going to his basket. I thought the two guys on him did a good job of making him dink and dunk to get open. Then they did a good job of keeping him going east and west and got all the way to the other sideline before he was able to get a crack at the basket.”
After Young’s missed shot, Bedlam quickly ensued on the court as hundreds of OSU students stormed Eddie Sutton Court and celebrated the victory.
The majority of the sell-out crowd – first of the season – stayed and sang the OSU alma mater with the Cowboys.