Oklahoma State basketball: Le'Bryan Nash's teammates call him 'Mr. Clutch'
Nash comes through when the Cowboys need him the most; he's the only OSU player to score a field goal in the second half.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Le'Bryan Nash's teammates call him Mr. Clutch. They do that because he tells them to.
“He's always telling us, he's got the fourth quarter,” said OSU's Markel Brown.
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Nash lived up to his name Thursday night in a wild Big 12 basketball quarterfinal. The Cowboys survived Baylor 74-72 at the Sprint Center, but only after Pierre Jackson made his own clutch candidacy. Jackson scored 24 second-half points, leading the Bears back from an 18-point deficit, and in the final 2.9 seconds, Jackson took a Baylor inbounds pass, sped into the front court and double-pumped a 3-point shot that bounced off the rim.
“Holy crap,” OSU star Marcus Smart said to himself as that shot launched.
“My heart dropped,” Nash said.
“I wasn't overly excited about seeing him run down the court wide open,” said State coach Travis Ford, exaggerating Jackson's freedom just a tad.
Indeed it was quite the scare for the Cowboys, who had a 20-point lead in the final minute of the first half and almost went back to Stillwater with what would have been a scarring defeat, heading into the NCAA Tournament next week.
But OSU won thanks in large part to Nash, the only Cowboy to make a second-half basket. That's right. Twenty of OSU's 32 second-half points after intermission came on foul shots. The rest, Nash's six field goals. Four of those came in the final four minutes, after Baylor drew within 57-53.
“I love playing in the clutch,” Nash said. “I've played in the clutch my whole life. I tell my teammates all the time, give me the ball in clutch moments. They call me Mr. Fourth Quarter.”
Nash hasn't always lived up to his ample hype, but give him credit. He's playing the best basketball of his OSU career in recent weeks, just when the Cowboys need it the most. After an 0-for-4 first half, Nash became OSU's best offensive threat in the second half.
“The second half, I just told my teammates, ‘If you give me the ball, I'm just coming through clutch,'” Nash said. “If we got a problem, just keep going to me. I tell these guys every time that I like playing in the clutch, and it worked out for me.”
Nash scored on a variety of power moves against Baylor, which used four guards down the stretch and paid the price when Nash muscled a variety of smaller defenders.
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