Oklahoma State basketball: Cowboys eliminated from NCAA Tournament by Oregon
SAN JOSE, Calif. — Le'Bryan Nash sat shaking his head, pondering the coming days and weeks.
And the reminders certain to come. Oh, the reminders, and not all that went right in this Oklahoma State season.
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Oklahoma State saved its worst for last.
While statistics from a few other games may reveal uglier numbers on the key categories — points, rebounds, turnovers, shooting — it's hard to argue the Cowboys were cumulatively worse, at a worse time, than they were Thursday, bounced out of the NCAA Tournament in a 68-55 loss to Oregon at HP Pavilion.
“It's the worst, because we don't get to play no more,” Nash said. “We've got to go home and watch it on TV now. We've got to watch Oregon and all the teams that we played and we beat and we didn't beat.
“That just hurts me a lot, seeing that I can't play any more in my sophomore year. It hurts a lot.”
Hurts, too, to stumble so badly on the big stage, in the program's much-anticipated return to March Madness following a two-year absence.
The Cowboys committed three turnovers before ever attempting a shot and accumulated 10 by halftime, when they trailed 37-26.
They were battered on the boards, 44-32, and allowed the Ducks to turn 14 offensive rebounds into 12 second-chance points.
And it's not like Oregon caught the Cowboys by surprise.
“We gave them 21 extra possessions in the first half, between our turnovers and extra shots,” said OSU coach Travis Ford. “And those were our two No. 1 keys: No. 1A and 1B.
“At this time of the season, you can't let a team play to their strengths. And we let them do that.”
“They were as physical as we expected, we just didn't come out and match their physicality and intensity,” said Marcus Smart, the Cowboys' captain of toughness. “And that's very disappointing, because this team, we decided to establish our identity as one of the toughest teams in the Big 12 and the country.