Oklahoma State basketball: Cowboys hunger for stiffer competition

Le'Bryan Nash acknowledges he sometimes plays to the level of his competition. But coach Travis Ford is trying to keep his team focused on the here and now.
by John Helsley Published: December 18, 2012
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photo - Oklahoma State's Michael Cobbins (20),  Marcus Smart (33) and Kamari Murphy (21) celebrate a three-pointer from Alex Budke (23) during the men's college basketball game between Oklahoma State University and Central Arkansas at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater, Okla., Sunday,Dec. 16, 2012. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman
Oklahoma State's Michael Cobbins (20), Marcus Smart (33) and Kamari Murphy (21) celebrate a three-pointer from Alex Budke (23) during the men's college basketball game between Oklahoma State University and Central Arkansas at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater, Okla., Sunday,Dec. 16, 2012. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman

“When we played N.C. State and Tennessee, I played better, like I want to play,” said Nash.

And while Nash and the Cowboys haven't completely nodded off in any of these recent games — they've turned it on when necessary — they have needed an occasional in-game motivational moment from Ford to regain focus.

Yet coming up: a New Year's Eve showdown with No. 14 Gonzaga in Gallagher-Iba Arena, followed by the opening of Big 12 play at Kansas State on Jan. 5.

Zags chatter grows around the program, causing Ford to wince.

Already an anticipated game, interest in the matchup heightened when Boone Pickens bought the remaining available 4,000 seats and offered them free. Snatched up in minutes from the OSU ticket office, the game is now officially a sellout.

“I can't tell you how many questions I've gotten on Gonzaga,” Ford said. “It was getting a lot of (hype) because of what Mr. Pickens did — which was wonderful, great — but everyone's been wanting to talk about that.

“That game seems so far away right now.”

Regardless, the countdown is on.

“I've been hearing a lot of talk about it,” said Cowboys guard Markel Brown, before going into a Ford imitation. “We're just preparing ourselves for the next team. And when the time comes, when we get to Gonzaga, we'll prepare for them and we'll be ready to play.”

by John Helsley
OSU Reporter Sr.
John Helsley grew up in Del City, reading all the newspapers and sports magazines he could get his hands on. And Saturday afternoons, when the Major League Game of the Week was on, he'd keep a scorecard for the game. So the sports appeal was was...
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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.

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