“LB's understanding of what we need from him has drastically improved, and tonight I thought he was unbelievable, tremendous."
And Nash was vital during that defining stretch of the game, when the Cowboys became the aggressor.
OSU had led 36-30 at the half, before the Wildcats went on a 20-5 run into a 50-41 lead, taking it to the Cowboys who had suddenly lost their way on the offensive end. A pair of Ford timeouts refocused the Cowboys — and Nash.
And the Wildcats offered little resistance to him or Marcus Smart, who added 21 points on 7-of-11 shooting. Outscoring K-State 36-24 in the paint, OSU shot 56.8 percent from the floor, its best outing in conference play.
“They did a good job getting it to (Nash),” said K-State coach Bruce Weber. “We did not do a good job of denying it. Against great players, you can't let them catch the ball. You've got to play defense before they catch it. You can't let them catch it in their comfort zone. They're gonna score baskets.
“We gave them too many easy layups and then he started wheeling and dealing and getting in there and we should have probably helped better, made him kick it, made them shoot some 3s.”
Not these Cowboys.
Not this Nash.
A year ago, maybe even a month ago, maybe. But after having a savior role thrown on him as a true freshman a year ago — which Ford and the player now admit was too much — a blossoming roster around him has relieved pressure from Nash.
And it's released him to be his best.
“When you've got more talented players,” Nash said, “you say ‘Thank you,' to God. When you've got guys like Marcus and Markel, everything's easier.
“It doesn't matter which of us scores. It can be any of us three or none of us. And we can still win. And that's the important thing.”