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OSU Overcomes Slow Start To Blow Out UCA

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STILLWATER, Oklahoma -

It took nearly 10 minutes for No. 24 Oklahoma State to wake up against Central Arkansas on Sunday but, once the Cowboys got going, the Bears were powerless stop them.

Central Arkansas jumped out to a 22-11 lead against a sluggish OSU side but Markel Brown, Le'Bryan Nash and Marcus Smart flipped a switch for the Pokes, who went on a tear with a 29-4 run of their own, eventually leading to a 91-63 victory.

The Cowboys big three of Smart, Nash and Brown went on a 15-1 run by themselves after UCA took the 22-11 lead.

It was one of Nash's most efficient games as a Cowboy, leading all scorers with 19 points and doing it on just 12 shots. Nash's growth has been evident early this season in his decision making and OSU coach Travis Ford addressed it after the game.

"I really liked the flow of (Nash's) game," Ford said. "He actually passed up some shots that he normally could have taken. But I liked him showing his unselfishness, his shooting percentage is good right now, he got to the foul line, which is big for him. When he's getting to the foul line, I know he's playing his best. All I have to do is look at that stat, if he's getting to the foul line, then he's doing what we're asking him to do.

"Then he gets five assists, 19 points, six rebounds, that's a pretty good stat line for him. That's kind of what we expect, it's not like he's not capable of doing that night in and night out."

Brown had 14 points, highlighted by a devastating reverse alley-oop slam off a pass from Smart during the Pokes' 29-4 run.

Smart's shooting struggles continued but, as usual, he made up for it in other areas. The star freshman scored 10 points on 2-of-7 shooting but both makes were from 3-point range and he converted all four of his free-throw opportunities. He also added seven assists, four rebounds, two blocks and a steal.

Phil Forte and Michael Cobbins also scored in double figures for the Pokes, scoring 12 and 10, respectively. Cobbins also chipped in eight rebounds and three blocks as he continues to rebound quickly from an injury that kept him off the court for the first five games of the season.

Even with the game no longer in doubt and after many fans had already headed for the exits, the loudest ovation of the afternoon came with 18 seconds remaining in the game. With primarily walkons on the floor for the Pokes, Christien Sager found a wide Alex Budke at the 3-point line, who drained it and sent Gallagher-Iba into a frenzy. Budke is the son of the late Kurt Budke, OSU's former women's basketball coach who died in a tragic plane crash last year. It was Budke's first basket as a Cowboy after transferring to OSU from St. Gregory's.

Brown said that was a very emotional moment for everyone involved.

"It wasn't big for just the team, it was big for everyone at OSU," Brown said. "Seeing Budke go out there and get a few minutes with a 3-pointer was big. The fans loved it."

OSU outrebounded UCA 53-35 and continued to thrive defensively, limiting the Bears to just 35 percent shooting from the floor and 6-of-26 shooting from 3. OSU tied a season best with 19 assists and outscored UCA 44-26 in the paint.

The Cowboys improved to 8-1 on the season with the win and return to the court on Wednesday for a 7 p.m. contest against UT Arlington in Stillwater.

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