Smart ready to lead Oklahoma St against Gonzaga

SAN DIEGO (AP) — This is a big reason why Marcus Smart passed up the NBA draft and returned for his sophomore season at Oklahoma State.

The NCAA tournament is here, and the ninth-seeded Cowboys (21-12) will face eighth-seeded Gonzaga (28-6) on Friday, with both teams hoping to erase bad memories of earlier-than-expected exits last March.

For Smart, it's the final chapter of his college career. He says he doesn't regret bucking the one-and-done trend in college basketball and returning to school. He says he learned from his three-game suspension for shoving a Texas Tech fan.

Smart says the Cowboys will go out and have fun.

During Thursday's light practice at Viejas Arena, they took half-court shots and then, led by Smart, greeted Cowboys fans in the stands, posing for pictures and signing autographs.