Nash Bounces Back As Cowboys Escape Tulsa

Keiton Page said on Monday that this team wasn't worried about Le'Bryan Nash because they knew what he would be able to do with a little bit of time. Nash certainly didn't need much of it.

The Cowboy freshman forward responded to his scoreless performance in 11 minutes in a loss to Virginia Tech with a career-high 21 points in 30 minutes to lead the Cowboys to a comeback 59-56 victory against the Tulsa Golden Hurricane.

Nash hit his first two shots, both 3-pointers, and hit a third triple that was waved off for a questionable carrying violation en route to a 6-of-13 shooting night that included 7-of-11 free throws, five rebounds a fierce block and a steal in the full court press that turned into a made 3 by Page.

"It's basketball. If you play as hard as you can, good things will happen to you," Nash said. "That's what my coaches always tell me, so I had that in my mind pregame."

And Nash did look different on Wednesday. He was more assertive, more energetic and more confident, but all within the confines of the offense. He never looked like a one-man show but was very clearly the focal point of offensive sets for the majority of the night. That is what OSU fans and his teammates have been waiting on.

Impressive as his performance might have been, Page said that's still not even close to what he can do once he gets a few more games under his belt.

"LB was on his game tonight," Page said. "We needed him to have that kind of game tonight. We know what kind of player LB's going to be midseason, and once he gets to that point, he's going to be a scary guy. I'll be glad he's on my team."

Coach Travis Ford said Nash's display was, "just a glimpse," into what the McDonald's All-American has to offer.

Even if a glimpse is all it was, the Cowboys certainly needed it to avoid a third-straight loss.

Despite carrying a cozy 10-point lead into halftime, the Pokes faltered in the second half. OSU turned the ball over on its first four possessions and scored just two field goals in a 13-minute stretch as the double-digit lead became a seven-point deficit with less than six minutes remaining.

But that's when Nash and Page, who sprained his ankle in their morning practice and was questionable for the game, took over.

With the Cowboys trailing 50-43, Nash scored eight-straight points for the Pokes, highlighted by an emphatic one-handed tomahawk jam on the baseline off a transition feed from J.P. Olukemi, to pull within one.

Then the injury-riddled Page sank a 3-pointer with 2:25 left to give OSU its first lead since the 13:25 mark, a lead it would not relinquish the rest of the game.

"(I was) proud of us," Ford said. "I told our team, ‘This is a good win for our basketball team. We're an OK team right now. We're not good. We're OK, at best. That's what we are.' And that's fine.There's steps we've got to take to get good. There's steps we've got to take to get very good. And there's steps we've got to take to be great.

"And I've told them what those steps need to be and when we need to achieve them."

And one of those steps is sure to be a better overall team effort on offense. Nash and Page accounted for 36 of the Cowboys 59 points, with Markel Brown, who finished with eight, being the only other player to score with any consistency and the team finished with just six assists against 17 turnovers.

The Pokes shot 37 percent from the floor and 69 percent from the free throw line and as Ford looked over the stat sheet in the postgame, he just shook his head and described the Cowboy win as accurately as anyone could have.

"I'm just glad we won," he said. "We're not going to win many games with stats like this."

Next up for OSU is a 5 p.m. game against Langston on Sunday in Gallagher-Iba.

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