Nash Comes Up Big As Cowboys Top ISU

It was quite fitting, really. Just a little more than three weeks after Iowa State knocked off Oklahoma State on a last-second shot in Ames, the Cowboys were at home with a chance to do the same.

Freshman forward Le'Bryan Nash took the Cyclones up on the opportunity and doled out a little revenge, sinking a cold-blooded 15-foot jumper with four seconds remaining in Gallagher-Iba Arena but he wasn't done yet.

ISU inbounded to their go-to guy for the night, Chris Allen, who sprinted his way down the floor and appeared to be on his way to a potential overtime forcing layup but Nash was having none of that. The Dallas native swatted Allen's attempted emphatically as his momentum carried him directly into a celebrating student section in Gallagher-Iba Arena as the buzzer sounded for the Cowboys' 69-67 victory.

Why have one game winning play when you can have two?

"I live for the big moments," Nash said. "Coach Ford drew a play for someone to get the ball at the top of the key. I went and set the screen, pick and pop. He gave me the ball in a good situation. I had a smaller guy guarding me. I rose above him and made a good shot.

"Then I knew that Iowa State was going to pass to Chris Allen. I told Brian (Williams) to stay with him. My man set a pick and so the players switched on me. Allen did not jump that high off of the floor. I got a good block."

After the game, ISU coach Fred Hoiberg lauded praise on the Cowboy freshman.

"He's a heck of a player," he said. "The kid hit a big-time shot at the end of the game. He's a matchup problem when he plays the four because of his ability to step outside and hit shots. That's why we went small for quite a bit of the game. Give the kid credit; he stepped up and hit a huge shot."

Not only did he hit the big shot, he made the big defensive play to seal it. And he did it on a play where ISU did exactly what it wanted to do to try to send the game to extra time.

"We executed our play. We had a big guy guarding Chris (Allen) and he took it in there, made a move," Hoiberg said. "We thought he could get in there and get fouled or go for the layup. He was obviously the hot guy for us at the time and we wanted to get the ball in his hands and let him make a play."

The Cyclones got the shot they wanted but the Cowboys got the result they wanted. Nash was obviously a huge reason why, finishing with 18 points on 6-of-10 shooting to go with six rebounds, two assists and two blocks. At halftime, Nash had 14 points and the rest of the Cowboy starters had 14 — combined.

But the difference on Tuesday night was the support Nash got from his teammates in the second half. Markel Brown scored 15 of his team-high 19 after the break. Brian Williams scored eight of his 10 in the second; Keiton Page scored eight of his 13. When the defense on Nash got tough, the rest of the Cowboys were there to pick up the slack.

Even Marek Soucek played a role, hitting both of his 3-point attempts to finish with a career-high six points in eight minutes.

Perhaps the most unsung hero of all was power forward Michael Cobbins, who manned the paint virtually alone again in the absence of injured center Philip Jurick. Against a physical Cyclone team, Cobbins hauled in a career-high 14 rebounds, the most by a Cowboy this season and the fourth most ever by an OSU freshman.

"I thought Michael Cobbins might have been the most valuable player in the game with the job he did on Royce White and figuring out, somehow, how to have enough energy to go get 14 rebounds, and then we tried to throw the ball in there to him several times and he was trying to do some things," Ford said. "I just thought he was tremendous in this basketball game, as well as some other guys. I thought we played the second half very focused, and I commended our guys on the job they did on the scouting report on both ends of the court for us, offensively and defensively. Our guys did a great job."

Doing a great job is becoming a trend in recent weeks for this team, which has transitioned from down-and-out to up-and-coming in rapid fashion.

And that change in perception has come with a little swagger as the Pokes prepare to head to Lawrence, Kan., for a tough road test against the No. 10 Jayhawks.

"It is always good to win at home," Brown said. "They got us on a last-second shot (in Ames) that we should have won. We were not going to let that happen again."

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