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

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.


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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