Nash, Hickey Lead The Way On Senior Night

STILLWATER – Oklahoma State was in need of a win Wednesday night after losing its last four games. Seniors Le’Bryan Nash and Anthony Hickey made sure the Cowboys got that win in their last ever appearance inside Gallagher-Iba Arena, combining for 40 points in leading OSU to an 82-70 victory over TCU.

The Cowboys were on the verge of falling onto the proverbial NCAA Tournament bubble with another loss but the victory improves their record to 18-11. OSU is now tied with Kansas State for sixth place in the conference with an 8-9 record, and Texas is 7-10. The team finishing sixth in the Big 12 is not required to play on the first day (Wednesday) of next week’s postseason conference tournament.

OSU wraps up the regular season on Saturday by traveling to West Virginia to face the 20th-ranked Mountaineers at 1 p.m. (Central time), while Kansas State plays at Texas later in the day.

Nash and Hickey were among the six Cowboys honored on Senior Night in their final regular season appearance at home. They didn’t disappoint once the ball was tipped.

Nash scored 15 of his 20 points in the first half, and Hickey did most of his damage (18 of his career-high 20 points) in the final 20 minutes of play.

"I think they deserved it," OSU junior Phil Forte said of the seniors. "Obviously, we needed this win. More importantly, we wanted to send the seniors out right. They deserve it. They work hard, and they're a great group of guys so I'm happy we got to send them out with a win."

Nash was 7-of-12 shooting from the field and a perfect 6-of-6 from the free-throw line, while adding six rebounds, two assists and a steal. Hickey was 8-of-12 shooting, including making all four of his three-point attempts, while contributing five assists, two steals, two rebounds and a blocked shot.

Nash scored 15 points in the first half on just eight shots. He converted three conventional three-point plays in the last 6:24 of the first half.

"It hit me when the ball went up in the air," Nash said of playing his final home game. "At first, I was just going through the motions, and that was my bad.

"When Coach Ford took me out, he talked to me and told me, 'You know this is your last game so you have to go out there and play. We need this win.' I just got down to business when he put me back in, and we came out with the W.

"It kind of makes you feel sad. This is one of the best arenas I've ever been in in my entire life. When that place is sold out, it's just mayhem. It's going to be hard, but I'm going to come back and support."

Senior Marek Soucek made OSU’s first shot when he banked a three-pointer in just 19 seconds into the game – his first points of the season and his first field goal attempt since the second game of the season against Prairie View A&M on Nov. 16 – but the Cowboys missed their next 11 shots in a row to fall behind 9-5.

But thanks to Nash, Phil Forte and their teammates the Cowboys made 11 of their next 17 shots in to close out the first half and take a 34-30 halftime lead.

Then the Cowboys opened the second half with an 18-3 run, capped by Nash converting another conventional three-point play to take a commanding 52-33 lead. The Horned Frogs would get no closer than the final margin of 12.

"We had a lot of great contributions from several players. Obviously, Nash and Hickey played very well," OSU coach Travis Ford said. "I thought (Michael) Cobbins rebounded the ball well and got some big rebounds that we needed.

"I thought Phil Forte kind of got his game back. I liked his speed, I liked his energy. I thought he passed up a few shots, but I liked how Phil Forte played today.

"We got contributions from a lot of guys, but two guys that I thought were really difference-makers were Jeffrey Carroll and Tavarius Shine. I thought those two guys were tremendous."

The Cowboys scored 82 points (their most in a Big 12 game this season and the most since an 87-61 victory over North Texas on Dec. 3) while making 11-of-17 shots from three-point range. They also committed a season-low five turnovers.

The Cowboys close out the regular season on Saturday when they travel to West Virginia to face the 20th-ranked Mountaineers. West Virginia defeated OSU 73-63 in Stillwater on Jan. 21.


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