Inside Cowboy Basketball: Anderson Needs Help

James Anderson has become the go-to guy for the Cowboys, even if his outside shot has been inconsistent. He is averaging more than 21 points, and Oklahoma State was not the same while he was out of the Monday's game, which the Cowboys lost to Oklahoma in overtime.

Oklahoma State led 42-34 with 12:48 remaining when Anderson hit the floor hard after a drive to the basket, though no foul was called. He was bleeding from the head and came out the game, and that's when the Sooners went on a 13-0 run that got them back in the game.

Anderson, the Big 12's leading scorer, got back into the game to stop the bleeding for him and his team, and he hit the game-tying score with 3.7 seconds remaining to force overtime. But the Cowboys struggled thereafter, and it was clear that Anderson -- who was limping earlier in the game with some sort of lower-body ailment -- was physically beat up.

The Cowboys face Baylor in Waco on Saturday, and the Bears have been a nice surprise. They stand at 13-1, allowing opponents to score only 60.1 points per game following a 31-point win over the Sooners, their first over Oklahoma in more than 30 years. They have great perimeter scoring options in LaceDarius Dunn and Tweety Carter and an inside force in Ekpe Udoh, who leads the Big 12 in rebounding.

Anderson can't do it alone. He has been great attacking the basket, but he hasn't been as effective from the outside -- his 5-for-8 3-point shooting performance beyond the arc against Texas Tech notwithstanding. Anderson was 1-for-3 on 3-point attempts in the loss to Oklahoma.

The Cowboys must find another consistent scoring option. Marshall Moses was hot in the first half against the Sooners, using several turnaround baby hook shots to score 12 of the team's first 27 points as Oklahoma State built a lead at Norman. But Moses scored only four points after that point, not appearing assertive in trying to work for open shots.

OKLAHOMA 62, OKLAHOMA STATE 57 (OT): James Anderson (18 points) scored the game-tying basket to send the game to overtime, but from there Oklahoma took over behind a big 3-pointer from Tommy Mason-Griffin. The Sooners took advantage of Anderson falling and hitting his head on the floor at the 12:48 mark of the second half, going on a 13-0 run after they had fallen behind by eight. The Cowboys did a good job defensively, especially on the Sooners' Willie Warren and Tony Crocker, but Oklahoma State shot only 27.5 percent from the field and made only five of its 25 3-point attempts.

--Oklahoma State has an answer when it struggles offensively: Clear out for James Anderson. The Cowboys dug a 16-7 deficit eight minutes into their Big 12 opener against Texas Tech, but Anderson poured in 25 first-half points to establish a 17-point halftime lead. Oklahoma State went on to cruise 81-52.

"It's fun to watch whenever he gets on a roll like that," said teammate Obi Muonelo. "I just started watching him after a while. It was a blast."

Anderson probably could have continued to hog the ball and score at will. He even had motivation after Andrea Riley scored 43 points for Oklahoma State earlier in the day to spark an upset against Baylor in a women's game played earlier in the day at Gallagher-Iba Arena.

Instead, Anderson wanted teammates to get involved offensively while looking ahead at times when an opponent may actually contain him. Few teams have found answers so far. Anderson led the Big 12 with a 21.5-point average through Jan. 10.

"I didn't have to go out and score like I did in the first half," said Anderson, who settled for 28 points, nine short of his career best. "I just wanted to get all my teammates into it. ... I wasn't going to be selfish and chase after a record. I went out and still played team ball."

Maybe so, but when the Cowboys need a basket, they're clear on which player is the most capable of scoring it.

--Although attention was justifiably focused on G James Anderson and a first-half outburst that led to a 28-point performance against Texas Tech, the Oklahoma State defense was sharp too in the 81-52 blowout to begin Big 12 play. Guards Ray Penn and Fred Gulley combined to hold Texas Tech G John Roberson scoreless for the first time in his career. Roberson came in averaging 13.9 points, but went 0-for-5.

--Oklahoma State was averaging 11.0 turnovers through Jan. 10. The mark, if it can be sustained, would be a school record.

ON THE SPOT: Freshman PG Ray Penn has come on of late, scoring 12 in the win over Texas Tech and 14 in the loss to the Sooners. He gave the Cowboys some energy in the second half of the Oklahoma game, though he also played out of control at times. He has great scoring ability and might have to take some of the load with opponents focusing so much on James Anderson, but Penn also must not force shots and dribble himself into trouble.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "The only thing that got us going (against Texas Tech) was we got some turnovers and some deflections and the turnovers led to easy points. That gave us great confidence at the other end." -- Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford.

SEASON RECAP: Even after nonconference play ended and Oklahoma State sitting with just two defeats, second-year coach Travis Ford was adamant the Cowboys could play better. He insisted his team had played steady, but had not reached its potential. His point is well-taken now that OSU started Big 12 play with an 81-52 romp against Texas Tech, which also lost just two nonconference games. The blend of productive veterans and rising newcomers the Cowboys field has a bountiful upside, just as Ford projected.

PLAYER ROTATION: Usual Starters -- F Marshall Moses, F Obi Muonelo, G James Anderson, G Keiton Page, G Ray Penn. Key Subs -- F Matt Pilgrim, G Fred Gulley, F Roger Franklin.

Rhode Island 63, Oklahoma State 59
Oklahoma State 75, Coppin State 63
Oklahoma State 81, Texas Tech 52
Oklahoma 62, Oklahoma State 57 (OT)

at Baylor, Saturday, Jan. 16
vs. Colorado, Wednesday, Jan. 20
at Kansas State, Saturday, Jan. 23
vs. Texas A&M, Wednesday, Jan. 27

IN FOCUS: Maintaining the rhythm it exhibited in the rout against Texas Tech will be difficult on the road. Baylor presents a difficult inside matchup with F Ekpe Udoh a threat for a triple-double with his ability to score, rebound and block shots.

--G James Anderson now has scored 10 or more points in 30 consecutive games, which is tied for the sixth-longest streak in school history.
--G Ray Penn scored 14 points in the loss at Oklahoma and was coming off a 12-point game in the upset of then-No. 22 Texas Tech on Jan. 9.
--F Obi Muonelo encountered his worst shooting game of the season, hitting only one of 12 field-goal attempts in the loss to Oklahoma, though his one make was a big one. It was a 3-point shot with 1:32 remaining in regulation that cut a six-point lead to three and allowed the Cowboys eventually to send the game to overtime.

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