“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.”