Nash's First Career Double-Double Leads Pokes

STILLWATER, Okla. - Le'Bryan Nash got the ball with an open path to the rim, drove hard and finished with a thunderous dunk to give No. 8 Oklahoma State its first points of the year. It set the tone for the Cowboys' season opener against Mississippi Valley State and quite possibly, the entire season, as OSU beat MVSU 117-62 Friday in Gallagher-Iba Arena.

The game started slow with both teams in foul trouble early, but the Pokes jumped out to a 15-6 lead with 15:35 to play and never looked back, dominating every phase of the game against an outmatched opponent.

"I thought we showed some maturity out there," OSU coach Travis Ford said. "When we got up, we kept executing, which was good to see. We were trying to challenge our guys at halftime and in timeouts."

Nash led the way his first career double-double, finishing with 21 points and 10 rebounds — an extremely encouraging sight for Ford.

"I didn't know it was his first double-double," Ford said. "I was shocked. We've been challenging him to rebound the ball.

"Le'Bryan was a force. He really was a force. I saw him go above the rim four or five times to get rebounds. Things we haven't been seeing that we want to see."

Sophomore Phil Forte led all scorers with 22 points, including four 3-pointers, and was joined in double digits by Brian Williams and Markel Brown each with 14 and Marcus Smart with 11.

OSU corrected the 3-point shooting woes that limited its scoring in two previous exhibition games, finishing with a 57 percent clip from beyond the arc.

Freshman Stevie Clark also dished out eight assists in 23 minutes — more than the entire MVSU team, which had five. "He's really passing the ball and leading the team," Ford said. "Stevie has a great feel for the game. He sees things before they actually happen."

In all, OSU topped 100 points in a regular season game for the first time since 2008, just one sign of the explosiveness the team brings to the table.

In part because of the early foul trouble, the Cowboys did it with a wide range of lineups, ranging from the typical starting five to the extremely small set of Clark, Brown, Forte, Leyton Hammonds and Nash.

For Nash, this game serves as the first stepping stone to the eventual goals of the team.

"This is the first real game, so everybody is excited on our team," Nash said. "It's the start of the Final Four for us. It's the road to the Final Four."

But for Ford, the next two contests before facing Memphis Oct. 19 represent a needed opportunity for improvement. "I want to see execution," Ford said. "Don't make the game harder than it is, because sometimes our guys do that."

Murphy Sits
Sophomore forward Kamari Murphy did not play due to a minor shoulder injury. Ford said Murphy will not miss further time.

Carroll to Redshirt
Freshman Jeffery Carroll was the only healthy player who did not play, and Ford said the coaching staff plans for him to redshirt.

Next Up
OSU faces Utah Valley on Nov. 12 at 7 p.m. in Gallagher-Iba Arena.

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