Nash, Cowboys Thump Panhandle State

Wednesday night's exhibition opener against Panhandle State might not go down in the stat sheets but it was an impressive performance nonetheless for Cowboy freshman phenom Le'Bryan Nash.

Nash scored the Cowboys' first six points in a methodical 105-56 victory against Panhandle State in Gallagher-Iba Arena and finished with game-high totals of 26 points and 11 rebounds in just 22 minutes.

After the game, OSU sophomore guard Markel Brown joked that he and his teammates were to thank for Nash's big game.

"I think we beat him up enough in practice, I think he was ready," quipped Brown, who finished with 16 points and five rebounds on 7-of-9 shooting.

Maybe beating him up in practice was the key because that was certainly the approach the Aggies took in trying to slow down the 6-foot-7 18-year-old. Panhandle State was rough on Nash and wasn't letting him get anything easy but it didn't stop Nash from making it look that way.

He was efficient, going 8-of-14 from the floor but he did the majority of his damage at the free throw line, where he finished 10-for-11. His 10 makes doubled the Aggies' team total.

"I was real comfortable. I've been playing college basketball since June with these guys so I just treated it like just another basketball game. I just wanted to go out there, be confident and play my game and just play Cowboy basketball," Nash said.

But after the game, Nash wasn't completely satisfied with his performance. Asked if he was pleased with his stat line, he said that scoring 26 points wasn't what he wanted, but he didn't mean that in the way it sounds. He meant he wanted to score less to get his other teammates more involved.

"I didn't want to score 26 points, to be honest, but it was just part of the game," Nash said. "My teammates kept getting me the ball in good situations and I was scoring the ball and I got a lot of and-ones. I went to the free throw line a lot, I know that. I was happy with how I rebounded the ball; that's a big part of my game."

Overall, coach Travis Ford said he was impressed with Nash on the night.

"He should've (had that type of night)," Ford said. "It's only going to get harder than it was tonight. I liked the pace that he played with, I liked his shot selection and I don't think he forced a whole lot.

"I liked how he got his points and that was from the free throw line, going to the basket and posting up."

Nash wasn't the only Cowboy to stand out in Wednesday's game. Brown, as previously mentioned, had a big night and provided the biggest highlight play of the game when he was on a one-on-one fast break and went up with his right hand, cocked the ball back and tomahawked the ball over the defender.

Aside form Nash and Brown, three other Cowboys finished in double figures. Senior Keiton Page finished with 16 points, three rebounds and four assists on 5-of-7 shooting, including 4-of-6 from 3. Brian Williams chipped in 14 points with three boards and three assists. J.P. Olukemi had 13 points and five boards.

Michael Cobbins finished with nine points, Cezar Guerrero had five, Fred Gulley had four and Marek Soucek chipped in two.

Philip Jurick and Reger Dowell were the only two Cowboys who played without scoring a point but they made their impact in different ways. Jurick lived up to his reputation as a fierce shot blocker with three forceful swats in 15 minutes of action, while Dowell ran the offense well at times despite limited minutes because of early foul trouble.

It wasn't always pretty but that's to be expected from a young team who had six players make their Oklahoma State debuts and a seventh, Gulley, getting his first action in nearly a year after suffering a season-ending injury last year.

"I thought our effort was good tonight," Ford said. "I thought we played hard and had a good attitude. Everyone that got in contributed and did a good job. Obviously, there are a lot of areas for improvement but that's what I've been saying. They work hard, they have a good attitude but I think our youthfulness really shows at times. That's just going to get better with time."

The Cowboys play their second and final exhibition game on Sunday at 2 p.m. against Oklahoma Baptist in Gallagher-Iba Arena. The Cowboys open the regular season at home against Texas A&M – Corpus Christi on Nov. 11.

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