STILLWATER, Okla.– Marcus Smart was quiet and subdued as he apologized at a podium, a demeanor in contrast to the one that sent shock waves through Oklahoma State’s basketball program hours earlier.
Smart was suspended for three games Sunday by the Big 12 for shoving a fan in the closing seconds of the Cowboys’ 65-61 loss at Texas Tech on Saturday night.
The conference acted swiftly in banning the AP preseason All-America selection, saying in a statement the penalty was handed down for “inappropriate conduct with a spectator.”
Smart apologized to the fan, teammates and his family for his role in the altercation before coach Travis Ford expressed support for the sophomore without dismissing the severity of his actions.
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“This is not how I conduct myself,” said Smart, who is considered a top NBA prospect. “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.”
Late in the game in Lubbock, Texas, Smart tumbled out of bounds behind the basket after trying to block a shot. He was helped to his feet and then shoved Jeff Orr with two hands after it appeared the Raiders fan said something to him. Teammates pulled Smart away as he pointed back and shouted toward Orr.
Smart will miss games against Texas, Oklahoma and Baylor. He can return for a Feb. 22 home game against Texas Tech. But Ford said Smart will be allowed to practice.
“These guys mean a lot to me, and for me not to be able to be out there with them — it hits me in my heart,” Smart said.
There were reports Smart, who is black, told coaches Orr, who is white, directed a racial slur at him.
Texas Tech released a statement saying it conducted a thorough investigation. Orr denied making a racial slur, and Tech officials said the evidence backs up his statement.
Orr, who goes to many Texas Tech games every year, has voluntarily agreed to not attend any home or away games for the remainder of the season, according to the statement.
“I regret calling Mr. Smart a ‘piece of crap’ but I want to make it known that I did not use a racial slur of any kind,” Orr said.
Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby, who is at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, condemned Smart’s actions in a statement.
“Mr. Smart’s actions were a clear violation of the Big 12 Conference’s Sportsmanship and Ethical Conduct Policy,” Bowlsby said. “Such behavior has no place in athletics, and will not be tolerated.”
Ford said Smart already is learning from the incident.
“He understands, and we talked a lot about it, that no matter what is said or anything like that within a context of the game or life in general, whether it’s the heat of the moment or no matter what it is, you’ve got to try to keep your composure as much as you can,” Ford said.
Top 10 GAMES
At No. 1 Syracuse 57, Clemson 44
C.J. Fair scored 19 points, Jerami Grant added 12 and the top-ranked Orange (23-0 overall, 10-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) defeated the Tigers (15-7, 6-4).
K.J. McDaniels had 19 points and 10 rebounds for Clemson.
At Wisconsin 60, No. 9 Michigan St. 58
Traevon Jackson made a pull-up jumper with 2.1 seconds left for the Badgers (19-5, 6-5 Big Ten), seconds after Adreian Payne of Michigan State (20-4, 9-2) tied the score with a three-point basket.
Nigel Hayes scored 14 points for Wisconsin.
Payne scored a game-high 24 points. Big Ten leading scorer Gary Harris of the Spartans was held to six points on 3-of-20 shooting after being shadowed most of the afternoon by defensive specialist Josh Gasser.