STILLWATER — Le'Bryan Nash came clean Sunday, after all but floating through the first half of an eventual Cowboys rout of Central Arkansas.
The name — or lack of a significant name — on the opposing jersey can hinder his enthusiasm.
“I don't know about my teammates,” Nash said, “but it is for me. That's one weakness of my game, I play at the level of the competition. That's something I'm trying to change.
“I knew it was going to happen during this stretch.”
This stretch, a series of games opposite midlevel teams from mid-major conferences, including Wednesday night against UT Arlington, serves as the appetizer to the main course of Oklahoma State's schedule: Gonzaga and the Big 12.
For some, however, it's a stretch that's not all that appetizing. And for the Cowboys, they're clearly hungering for more.
In the eyes of OSU coach Travis Ford, it's a necessary run-up in terms of teaching and growing as a team.
“There's still so much room for improvement for this basketball team,” Ford said. “There's so many areas I could break down where we've got to get better, much better, and quickly.”
In the eyes of Nash, it's more like a necessary evil.
“I'm glad he admits it,” Ford said. “They say the first thing to fixing a problem is admitting it.”
Unfortunately, it's a problem that surely extends to other Cowboys and to the fan base, too. Alas, the problem will soon fix itself.
After UT Arlington and a Saturday meeting with Tennessee Tech, the intensity ratchets up for the Cowboys in a major way. OSU, 8-1 and ranked No. 24 nationally, just finds itself in between intriguing challenges. The nonconference schedule was frontloaded, with Tennessee and North Carolina State and Virginia Tech.
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No. 24 Oklahoma State vs. UT Arlington
* When: 7 p.m. Wednesday
* Where: Gallagher-Iba Arena, Stillwater
* TV: FSPLUS (Cox 68/HD 715)
* Radio: KXXY-FM 96.1
Three things to know
* Since beating OSU 69-58 in 1987, UTA is 0-28 against the Big 12. The Mavericks are 1-10 all-time against the Cowboys.
* The Mavericks are 0-2 this season against Big 12 competition — their only losses — falling 63-59 to Oklahoma in Arlington and 70-54 to Texas in Austin.
* Former Cowboys guard Reger Dowell is redshirting this year with UTA, after transferring from OSU last year.