Rather than settle for jump shots, as he can sometimes do, Nash continually slashed inside for buckets or fouls, leading to eight of his total coming at the line. Sooners coach Lon Kruger said Nash can create bad matchups, even in the post, due to his athleticism and length.
“I know I'm a matchup problem, very versatile, a guard who can post up,” Nash said. “I look at a lot of film of LeBron (James) and a lot of guys in the NBA that post up.
“I can post up big guys, as well as small guys. I think that's the best part of my game, posting up, and I try to use that to my advantage.”
Nash and Smart, who scored 19 of his points after intermission, kept the Cowboys close, even as the Sooners were shooting 61 percent in the second half. Both teams had opportunities late in regulation, but Oklahoma's Romero Osby missed a hurried running jumper as the shot clock neared zero with six seconds remaining. Then, following a timeout, Smart got an open look at a 3, but his attempt at the buzzer clanged off the rim.
Ultimately, the game flipped in the Cowboys favor in the final minute of overtime on two defensive plays.
First, Markel Brown worked a steal of the Sooners' Sam Grooms, leading to a Michael Cobbins layup that bumped the Cowboys' lead to 82-79. On Oklahoma's next possession, Smart tied up Steven Pledger on a 3-point attempt — with the possession arrow pointing Oklahoma State's way. Smart's final two free throws sealed the verdict.
And his validation.
“Norman wasn't a good game for me,” Smart said. “I started in foul trouble very early. They took me out of my game in frustration and I wasn't able to be there for my team. I felt bad.”
Now, finally, he can let that go.
“This team right here, we're on a nice little streak, little run we have going,” Smart said. “That's just a nice confidence builder for us, gives us momentum, especially for KU coming in Wednesday.
“We're just trying to ride that wave out.”