Anderson Leads Cowboys Past Explorers

James Anderson has experienced both the highs and lows of playing at the Ford Center. The Oklahoma State junior was outstanding Monday night with a game-high 28 points in leading the Cowboys to a 77-62 victory over La Salle, and hopes to make an encore appearance in March when the Oklahoma City arena is the site of first- and second-round NCAA Tournament games.

Anderson suffered the only shutout of his OSU playing career two years ago when Oral Roberts held him scoreless in a 74-59 loss to the Golden Eagles in the All-College Classic at the Ford Center. But he played one of his best games as a Cowboy last December when he had 33 points, 9 rebounds, 4 steals, 2 blocked shots and 2 assists to earn Most Valuable Player honors in OSU's 86-82 victory over Rhode Island in last year's All-College Classic.

The 6-foot-6 junior was almost as good on Monday night against La Salle, finishing with 28 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists to lead the Cowboys, who improved to 10-1.

But Cowboy head coach Travis Ford said his team won the game because they played well on the other end of the floor.

"We won with defense. Our offense still hasn't clicked. I still don't think we're playing our best basketball, which may be good," Ford said. "But the effort is good, the attention to detail has been there … our offense is just not clicking.

"Right now (our spurts on offense) are enough, but they're not going to be enough once we get to the Big 12 (schedule). We're going to have to be better consistently over a 40-minute period. We're not playing basketball as well as we're capable of to this point."

Anderson's three-pointer just a minute and a half into the game gave the Cowboys a 5-1 lead, and that's the closest the Explores would get the rest of the night. La Salle missed 18 of its first 20 shots from the field in the game's first 12 minutes to fall behind 23-7.

The Cowboys only led 36-26 at halftime when the Explorers hit seven shots in a row to finish the first half, but Marshall Moses and Obi Muonelo combined to score OSU's first eight points of the second half as the Cowboys expanded the lead to 44-28.

The Explorers pulled within 63-55 with less than 10 minutes to play before Anderson and Keiton Page (both with five points) led the Cowboys on a 12-2 run to secure the 10th win of the season.

Anderson was joined in double figures by Moses (18 points and 8 rebounds) and Page (11 points).

"I'm very pleased with our record. If you had told me we'd be 10-1 going into Christmas I probably would have said you're crazy with such a new basketball team, such a young basketball team," Ford said. "Even though we're proud to be 10-1, we know we have a lot of room for improvement.

"We know we haven't played as well as we're capable of. I think everybody on our team can do a few things to get a little bit better, even James and the guys who are playing good basketball. As I told our guys, we're striving to be great. We don't have to be great right now but we need to be great when the middle of January and February get here. We're going to have to play better than we are right now in the Big 12," he added.

The Cowboys will now take a few days off to join their families for Christmas before returning to Stillwater on Christmas night to prepare for their next game on Tuesday, Dec. 29, against Pacific at Gallagher-Iba Arena.

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