STILLWATER — Le'Bryan Nash has all but given up the 3-point shot.
Saturday, however, Nash got his 3s the old fashioned way.
Nash cashed on five and-1 opportunities on his way to a career-high 29 points — all needed with Marcus Smart and Kamari Murphy in perpetual foul trouble — to lead No. 11 Oklahoma State past West Virginia 81-75 before a crowd of 10,011 at Gallagher-Iba Arena.
It was never easy for the Cowboys, especially when Nash fouled out with 1:40 remaining and the Mountaineers pulled close at 75-72. Fortunately, OSU finished it off at the foul line, with Phil Forte scoring the final six points on free throws.
And it was a trying day overall, with Smart showing frustration, Murphy limited to 15 minutes and the Cowboys' grip on the game forever tenuous.
“I felt like I played,” coach Travis Ford said afterward. “It felt like, ‘Oh, we're playing good.' And then …
“It was just a tug-of-war out there. Strange game. Crazy game. Very physical game.”
The Cowboys improved to 16-3 overall and 4-2 in the Big 12.
West Virginia fell to 11-9 and 3-4.
The physicality showed in a combined 56 fouls and 66 free throws, with both teams heavily impacted. Nash and Smart eventually fouled out, and Murphy finished with four fouls.
Four Mountaineers were lost to fouls, including guard Eron Harris, who scored a team-high 21 points.
Smart, the Big 12's leading scorer entering the game, never got going. He went 1 of 7 from the floor, scoring a season-low four points. And Murphy was a near non-factor, held scoreless and contributing just two rebounds in his brief appearances.
So the Cowboys needed a horse.
And Nash saddled up.
The junior forward fueled a late run in the first half that put OSU up at intermission, made 10 of 13 shots from the floor, 9 of 14 from the foul line and grabbed nine rebounds.
“That's just my teammates getting me shots,” Nash said. “I'm in the right place, right under the basket, and when they dump it off, I'm going up strong. I just give credit to my teammates. Without those guys, I don't know where I'd be. I'd probably just be playing bad.
“But they keep pushing me and keep telling me to be aggressive, and that's what I did today. Today was my day.”
Nash said his initial focus was on rebounding, with Murphy missing as the team's lone reliable big man. But the opportunities and the points kept coming, as he regularly got the ball down low, converted, drew fouls — then converted.
Having attempted but four 3-point shots all season — all misses — Nash went conventional for the 3s Saturday.
“That's the best way for him,” Ford said, “and that's the best way to get them.”
The aggressive Nash proved hard to handle.
“I just feel like if I get going, I'm hard to stop,” he said. “I really believe in myself. I feel like I'm a great scorer. When I'm just playing hard, it comes naturally for me.”
Too natural, it appeared, for the Mountaineers.
“Even though Smart is a great player, I think they have a real matchup problem in Nash,” said West Virginia guard Juwan Staten. “Whenever he gets the ball and gets going, it's hard to stop because he can put the ball on the floor like a guard.
“He's a power forward in size, he can shoot the midrange, he can do a lot of things. When he gets it going and starts making shots, it's hard to stop.”
Markel Brown added 15 points for OSU, while Forte finished with 13 and Brian Williams and Stevie Clark added 10 each.