Le'Bryan Nash collected the All-College Classic Most Valuable Player trophy — fittingly the Henry P. Iba MVP trophy — and promptly handed it over to his mom Saturday.
“She demanded it,” Nash said.
Nash commanded the ball. Mom demanded the hardware.
“That's a good day,” Nash said.
On an afternoon when No. 7-ranked Oklahoma State's more prominent options weren't scoring, Nash filled the void, striking for a season-high 22 points in a 70-55 win over Louisiana Tech.
Before a crowd of 7,047 at Chesapeake Energy Arena, the Cowboys were dominant defensively, holding the Bulldogs to 32.8 percent shooting, forcing 16 turnovers and blocking eight shots. But with little rhythm or flow on the offensive end, and Marcus Smart and Markel Brown slow to get going, OSU eventually turned to Nash, who scored 15 in the first half.
“He gave us scoring when we needed it,” said Cowboys coach Travis Ford. “He's kind of a guy, when you're not making shots — and we've got other guys who like to shoot it, and all of a sudden they don't go in — everybody starts looking for LB.
“Everybody says, ‘Alright, let's throw it to him.' It always happens, because he usually gets the high-percentage shots. He's a good go-to guy when you need points.”
Saturday, Nash got rebounds, too, grabbing a team-high 10 for his second career double-double, both coming this season.
The Cowboys improved to 9-1. The Bulldogs fell to 8-3.
Tech coach Michael White suggested that OSU is a “legitimate Final Four contender.” And the presence of Nash as a third, or even fourth scoring option some games played to his point.
“It's tricky,” White said. “You hope Nash doesn't go off on you, while you spend a lot of other time concentrating on their other pros — on Smart and on Markel Brown, who's terrific as well. And Nash took advantage.
“The three or four times we were helping off him, he made us pay. He had five offensive rebounds. He's a long, athletic, talented guy who could be the best player on certain teams. That's another thing that makes them so good, their depth and overall talent level.”