Nash Turns In His Best Yet In Bedlam Win

Three hours before Bedlam tipped off in Stillwater, media members were setting up camera stands and claiming photographer locations, ESPNU's crew was getting its broadcast setup in order; all are typical goings on before a nationally televised game in Gallagher-Iba Arena. However, one thing seemed out of the ordinary — one player was in there practicing by himself.

Long before the doors opened for fans to enter the arena, LeBryan Nash was shooting step-back jumpers. He was fine tuning hop-step floaters, dribble drives and 3-pointers, and he was doing it alone.

Hours before he even took the floor against rival Oklahoma, Nash was putting in work. Once the Bedlam tilt started his efforts paid off.

The freshman from Dallas was clearly the best player on the floor in the Cowboys' 72-65 victory against the Sooners. Nash tied a career best with 21 points but this performance felt different than the others. It felt more complete.

Nash added eight rebounds, three assists and a steal. He's tied or had better nights in every category but his success in all facets was key to the Cowboys' third-straight Bedlam victory in Stillwater.

The Sooners didn't have an answer for for Nash, but the former McDonald's All-American had an explanation for his success.

"I'm being aggressive," Nash said. "My coaches told me I needed to be more aggressive in games; just going in and rebounding the ball. This was a big game for us. It's Bedlam, it's a rivalry, so I just try to do what my team needs me to do, and that's scoring the ball, helping Keiton (Page) out, and helping all of my teammates be better on offense.

"I'm playing on the perimeter more so it's giving me more time to play my game."

And his game as a true slashing, perimeter-oriented small forward showed the best evidence yet of what made him so highly touted as a high school senior.

"Le'Bryan Nash had a good night. We're trying to get him in better spots to score. We're wanting to try and get him in some situations where he can take guys one-on-one," coach Travis Ford said. "He's getting better. It's just a process. We started the year thinking he was going to be the low-post scorer for us. But that's just not his strength. Not that he can't do it, but he is better on the perimeter. The biggest struggle early for him was that all the things that came so easy to him in high school, didn't come quite as easy here."

Things still didn't necessarily come "easy" against the Sooners as he made just 7-of-18 shots but his aggressiveness, decision making and shot selection were the best they've been since he's been in a Cowboy uniform.

And he turned on his best attribute, a factor that has eluded him through the first half of the season — his athleticism.

"I liked his gears," Ford said. "I like the fact that he decided to turn it up a couple times.

"We tell him all the time, ‘Show your athleticism.'"

And on one play in particular he did exactly that.

In the second half, Nash charged through the lane and took flight over a Sooner defender. Both went crashing to the floor with Nash drawing a foul and heading to the line for two free throws.

A missed dunk attempt might seem like nothing but it was a hot topic after the game. He didn't just try to dunk, he tried to dunk through a defender. It was a more aggressive and athletic display than we've seen from the 6-foot-7 freshman. It was something Ford had been clamoring for.

"I don't know what he was trying to do," Ford said with a laugh. "He looked at me like, ‘That's what you've been telling me to do.'"

Ford and Cowboy fans should sincerely hope that's the first of many moments like that to come because Nash is only getting better.

And with Nash showing a new surge of excitement and energy about playing his natural position, it's a pretty safe bet.

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