In their best game of the season thus far, the Oklahoma State Cowboys knocked off the No. 2 ranked Missouri Tigers 79-72 Tuesday night inside Gallagher-Iba Arena.
Freshman Le'Bryan Nash showed up big for the Cowboys down the stretch when they needed him most. Down three points, Nash hit back-to-back three pointers to ignite the Cowboys late game comeback.
"My team needed me so I stepped up, we really needed this win, it's a turning point for our team," said Nash after the game.
Nash tallied a career-high 27 points and four rebounds while Brian Williams was also a big contributor all game adding 22 points and four rebounds.
Oklahoma State (10-10, 3-4) arguably put together its best collective first half all season. Oklahoma State's defense held the Tigers to 41 percent shooting and the Cowboys capitalized on eight Missouri turnovers that they turned into 12 points.
Williams led the way for the Pokes in the first, scoring 11 points. Philip Jurick was a big spark off the bench tallying six points and eight rebounds early in the game. Ball screens and back door cuts by the Pokes gave them a handful of easy baskets.
On the offensive side in the first half, OSU shot 57 percent from the field, and out-rebounded the Tigers 17-15 to lead 37-36 at the break.
The start of the second half was a much different story for Oklahoma State who started with three early turnovers that resulted in three straight Missouri baskets putting the Tigers up 44-39 just three minutes in.
With ten minutes left to play, the Cowboys trailed by three, but their defense kept the game close.
A big turning point came when Markel Brown threw down his second electrifying dunk of the night on a drawn up inbounds play with just under seven minutes left to go. His one handed baseline dunk cut the lead to three, but Brown was immediately called for a taunting technical, his second of the game, and was ejected.
In Brown's absence, Nash stepped in and stepped up big time scoring six straight points on back-to-back three pointers to give Oklahoma State a 68-64 lead.
Missouri (18-2, 5-2) was forced to foul and the Cowboys connected on their free throws missing only two in the entire game to seal the 79-72 victory.
As the final seconds ticked off the clock, Oklahoma State fans rushed the court and celebrated the win with OSU players.
The loss is the second of the season for the Tigers who were led by Ricardo Ratliffe 25 points and 12 rebounds. Marcus Denmon added 17 points, but Missouri's turnover struggle and offensive productivity let them down. MU finished with just 40 percent shooting from the field and 21 percent from long range.
The Cowboys shot 60 percent from the field on the night and 38.5 percent from behind the arc. Even though OSU turned the ball over 16 times, they managed seven blocks and out-rebounded MU 32-30.
Williams made 6-of-11 shots from the floor and 10-of-11 from the foul line on the night.
The Cowboys take the hardwood again on Saturday, Jan. 28 at Texas A&M at 3:00 p.m.