FORT WORTH — Marcus Smart drew the big cheers. Le'Bryan Nash produced the big game. Almost like being home.
Oh, but they were back home Wednesday night, back in the Metroplex where they dominated as prep stars, and the predominantly orange-hued crowd at Daniel-Meyer Coliseum made it quite comfortable for a road game — another road win for Oklahoma State — 64-47 over TCU.
Nash responded with a career-high 28 points and Smart added nine points, five assists, three steals and his usual directorial job as the No. 15 Cowboys improved to 21-6 overall, 11-4 in the Big 12.
And for Nash, it was a much more memorable experience than his only previous return to the area as a Cowboy, last year's double-overtime win over SMU, when he managed but four points on 2-of-10 shooting in 28 minutes.
This time, Nash kept creating exploiting mismatches with any Horned Frog defender he found charged with guarding him, finishing 12-of-16 from the floor while repeatedly taking the ball to the hole on a variety of slashing drives, or taking open feeds for dunks.
“It felt good,” said Nash, who was a standout at Lincoln High in south Dallas. “I had a lot of people here for me, a lot of people I haven't seen in a long time. I tried to invite them to the game, ‘Come out and see the game.'
“I'm glad I had a good game; because last year, against SMU, I didn't. It was fun. And it was a good win. That's the most important thing.” The Horned Frogs have presented little trouble for Big 12 opponents, with the exception of their still stunning upset of Kansas three weeks prior. And Cowboys coach Travis Ford reminded his team of that outcome regularly through the week.
“Every second,” Nash said.
Yet this game never seemed in doubt, especially after OSU used a 12-1 run to close out the first half for a 38-24 lead. The Cowboys pushed the margin as high as 20 in the second half and was never threatened in winning their fifth straight conference road game.
“I mentioned to the guys before the game, in my opinion, that's as versatile a team as we have in our league,” said Horned Frogs coach Trent Johnson. “They can play fast. They can play slow.
“We didn't have an answer to Nash. But make no mistake about it, the key to that whole thing is what Smart does. He's special. He's really special.”
And there was a special welcome for Smart and Phil Forte, who played at Flower Mound Marcus High School just north of Dallas. They, too, had a big following of friends and family who made their presence known during the pregame introductions and throughout the game.
“I think half of Marcus High School was here tonight,” said Cowboys Travis Ford. “They all bought tickets.”
Nash had his own following, and they let themselves be heard — along with the other Cowboys fans who numbered at least half of the estimated 4,000 in attendance — saluting him loudest when he checked out of the game with 1:49 remaining.
And for good reason, with TCU offering no answer to stop him.
“Well, he's bigger. He's stronger. He's quicker. And he's got more of a skill set than anybody we have,” Johnson said. “And they do a good job of putting him in spots where he can score.”
Nash's previous career high was 27 in last year's upset of Missouri. His season high was 26, scored in the overtime win over Oklahoma two weekends ago.
“I thought Le'Bryan's performance was impressive,” Ford said. “I liked where he got his points. I liked the speed of his game. He took advantage ... because they decided they were going to lock up our guards and not help at all, which created some driving angles and created him some room and some freedom to use his skills.
“He's tough to stop if you're going to do that.”