Anderson, Cowboys Back On Track

STILLWATER – James Anderson knew what was on the line Saturday afternoon. Oklahoma State was in a must-win situation if the Cowboys wanted to keep their hopes alive of returning to the NCAA Tournament. Anderson responded with the first double-double of his career (27 points and 10 rebounds) as Oklahoma State defeated Iowa State 86-67 in front of 10,124 inside Gallagher-Iba Arena.

Oklahoma State improves to 15-9 overall and 4-6 in Big 12 play with the victory, while Iowa State saw its record drop to 13-12 and 2-8.

The 6-foot-6 Anderson had been close to recording the first double-double of his 56-game Cowboy playing career numerous times this season but it couldn't have come at a more opportune time. He scored 15 of his points in the first half and finished 8-of-18 from the field, including making 5 of 12 three-pointers. He was 6 of 8 from the free-throw line, and his rebounds were evenly divided with five on the offensive end of the floor and five on the defensive side.

"I have always been a point off or a rebound off. I finally got it and I am excited about it," Anderson said of his first career double-double. "Coach has always challenged me to go out and get as many rebounds as I can and that is what I was going for tonight.

"Coach has been telling me at practice every day to attack the rim, and go up strong when I go to the rim. If I hit a couple of threes there would be guys flying at me, so that opens up the drive for me and I can either get to the rim or dish to my teammates," said Anderson, whose 27-point, 10-rebound effort followed his 35-point performance against Texas earlier in the week.

In addition to Anderson's performance, OSU senior Terrel Harris got back on track after two sub-par games by scoring 21 points. Also, point guard Byron Eaton responded with 16 points and six assists. Marshall Moses, who was held scoreless and had just one rebound in the 25-point loss to Texas, finished with six points and eight rebounds in 18 minutes of play.

Cowboy head coach Travis Ford said his team got back to playing the way he wanted against the Cyclones.

"I'm very proud of the energy level and the attitude our guys played with tonight," said Ford. "We got back to picking up somebody for 94 feet for 40 minutes. We never stopped pressing one single time tonight. We made a commitment Thursday (in practice) and we hope our guys continue to believe in it, that we're going to quit making excuses about being tired, we don't have depth, we're not tall, and things like that.

"I might have been the lead guy in saying we're tired, we can't press, we can't play fast because we don't have depth. I told our guys on Thursday that we're going to get back to my identity. I've not coached the way that I should have coached these guys as far as a couple of times I've made too many excuses for them.

"I'm going to get back to playing the style of basketball I like playing, and I think these guys can be aggressive and get after it, and quit thinking they're tired. It doesn't matter if we're big or small. Let's quit talking about winning and losing; let's talk about execution and playing hard and see what happens," Ford continued.

Ford started a five-guard lineup against the Cyclones with freshman Keiton Page getting his first career start. He told reporters Thursday that changes to the starting lineup could be in store, and players had to begin earning their playing time.

Ford knew it was a gamble to go with a lineup that had the 6-6 Anderson as his tallest player against a much taller Iowa State starting five that included 6-foot-11 Justin Hamilton and 6-10 Craig Brackins. The Cowboys actually out-rebounded the Cyclones 37-27 (the highest rebounding margin this season), and Iowa State grabbed just four offensive boards (the fewest by an OSU opponent this season).

And after five minutes it looked like it For'd move to go with the smaller, quicker lineup was going to backfire as the Cyclones made six of their first nine shots from the field in racing out to a 15-5 lead.

But the Cowboys scored 10 points in a row, eventually took the lead midway through the first half and posted their most lopsided win since defeating Savanna State 83-56 on Jan. 6.

"I thought we'd gotten away from our identity. We didn't have an identity the last three or four games," Ford said. "We'd play slow, we wouldn't press, we'd change defense … I told them that's got to change. We've got to form our identity. I told them this is the way it's going to be.

"One of my former players was here the other night. Gary Forbes, who played for me last year (at UMass), was here for a couple days of practice and after two or three days he said, ‘Coach, you've changed. You're getting soft. You're getting easy.'

"When you take over a team you want to build confidence in them, and you feel your way through it even as they're feeling their way through it with me. Maybe I haven't forced my identity on these guys as much as I normally would, as far as system-wise and things like that because I've made a lot of excuses," the Cowboy head coach continued.

"But it came to a point now where it's not about winning and losing. We've got to develop this program. This is who we're going to be and this is the way we're going to play. I've got to quit worry and just go coach this basketball team, and coach them the way I know how, and not allow them to make excuses. I don't need to make excuses," Ford said.

The Cowboys return to action Wednesday when the travel to Lubbock, Texas to face Texas Tech. OSU defeated Tech 81-80 in Stillwater on Feb. 4.

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