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10 thoughts on West Virginia

Le’Bryan Nash with a career game while Marcus Smart struggles.

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I’m standing at my desk (mostly because I use a standing desk but even if I didn’t I’d be standing at my desk) giving Le’Bryan Nash a standing ovation. That was the best game he’s ever played, probably in his life, and a once-enigmatic overrated high school star has suddenly become a steady hand on one of the Big 12’s best teams.

Nash had a career-high 29 points to go along with nine boards on Saturday in OSU’s 81-75 defeat of West Virginia.

It conjured memories of his 27-point monster from 2012 against No. 2 Mizzou but this one was far different.

That one was filled with three pointers and dunks. This one will scale, it’s repeatable, he did the things only Le’Bryan Nash is capable of doing on this Oklahoma State team…and he did them all day.

It was fitting in a game where Marcus Smart stole Nash’s freshman year persona (sneering at officials, yelling at coaches, kicking chairs) and his shooting percentage (1/7 from the field, 0/4 from three) that Nash would assume the role Smart has so often filled for the last two years.

He was calm, he was smart, he got to the rim, he got to the line, he was 10/13 (!) from the field.

OSU allowed Juwan Staten and Eron Harris to combine for 40 for WVU but kept the rest of its roster at bay, limiting the other eight guys that played to 35 points on 8/31 shooting.

Markel Brown was helpful with 15 points, 10 boards, 4 assists, 2 blocks, and one otherworldly 360 dunk, but this was Nash’s game.

Bob Huggins said after the game that Nash is the hardest guy in the Big 12 to guard which might be a bit of an exaggeration but look at those Big 12 games from Nash:

KSU: 20 points and 6 boards
Texas: 2 and 2
WVU: 18 and 6
TCU: 13 and 8
Kansas: 10 and 5
WVU: 29 and 9

Everything we ever wanted him to be (only the Texas game was a stinker), and maybe even a little bit more.

More thoughts on a wild one in GIA…

• Fran Fraschilla thinks Travis Ford is the John Wooden of inbounds plays out of a timeout.

• Not sure I can totally tell the difference between our first-half halfcourt offense and the offense of a 5-year-old youth soccer game. Just a bunch of running around in circles with the ball in the middle of a gaggle of humans.

• I liked the Stevie-Forte-Marcus-Markel-Nash lineup. It’s absurdly small but I think you can do a lot of different things with it.

• Fran on Marcus: “I don’t want to use the f-word but………”

• Speaking of Marcus, he got a double foul called on him in the first half and proceeded to absolutely lose his mind. He stomped off the court, went behind the bleachers to cool off, and then kicked a chairback until it bent over (see below).

Then he did this in the second half:

I get that you’re pissed and that you get fouled hard but…man, this is not the Marcus Smart we fell in love with last year.

That Smart seemingly supernaturally shrugged off hard fouls, smiled at referees, listened to his coaches. This Smart is petulant, the victim rather than the assassin.

It seems like he’s being dragged down by the weight of having to carry a top 10 team every night. Maybe that’s who he’s always been but even beyond the flopping his entire game was tough to watch today.

• On that topic, I do sort of wonder what kind of control Ford has over his stars. I joked on Twitter that Smart would be playing on a prosthetic foot for the rest of his career if he kicked a chair under Eddie but I don’t think Ford has the stones to discipline him.

I could be wrong of course, I’m not at practice everyday and I’m not privy to their relationship but Smart was afforded such a long leash last year (and rightfully so) that it would be kind of hard to rein it back in.

He did say this after the game, however:

• I really hope Stevie sticks around for four years. He’ll never play in the NBA but that’s sort of a good thing for OSU because he’s going to be a great four-year guy.

• I would have pee peed in my pants if Markel would have completed that trip, spin, dunk at the end of the furst half.

• Loved how Jon Sciambi described Smart: “He has a flair for the dramatic, both good and bad.” That’s perfect.

• Haha.

• Eron Harris’ shot is hideous. I know he was 6/7 from three but I closed my eyes every time he released it.

• Marcus and Forte were a combined 3/19 from the floor. That is not good. Also, Smart only got to the line twice. Twice!

• Part of me feels like that Memphis game early in the year spoiled us. Like, when we don’t beat a team by 35 now it’s a disappointment. I know six-point wins at home aren’t sexy but 16-3 is 16-3.

• One last note on Marcus. It sure is easier to swallow the flopping and the whining when he’s dropping a 25-10-8-5-5 line every night than it is when he takes himself out of the game with silly fouls and only scores four points. I know I’m harsh on him but that’s life as a superstar.

• Big 12 refs! Big 12 refs!

• It felt like Brian Williams had a sort of underrated 10 points and six boards. He got a bevy of them on offense at the very end to keep possessions alive.

• Pretty good.

• My favorite line from the studio on the day: “If you’re looking for the Western Kentucky-Louisiana Lafayette game….” I’m not, thanks though.

• Hell of a quote here:

• This was a real conversation between Jon Sciambi and Fran Fraschilla:

Sciambi: “”How much does Smart’s foul trouble tie into to Forte not playing well?”
Fran: “I think it does a little because they know each other so well.”

OK, I’m out.

• Sorry the writeup took so long. El Tigre was working on an 80 (!) at Torrey Pines and I had to write about how his career is in the tank, and how Travis Ford will win more Final Fours than Woods wins majors.

• Nash has somehow gone from overrated to properly rated to underrated in the course of two and a half years.

• With your life on the line would you rather put it in the hands of Markel being able to do a 540-degree dunk in an open gym or Phil Forte being able to hit 75 free throws in a row? Just a thought I had.

• WOW!

• Here’s one last look at the Markel 360:

Also, I agree with Carson. It’s painful to write but the title belt is his.

Bedlam on Monday.

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