Can Anderson, Cowboys Keep It Going?

It is obvious James Anderson can score. He leads the Big 12 in that category and his 22.8-point clip makes him the only scorer in the conference to produce more than 20 points on average.But the junior wing showed off his versatility against Baylor, and in the process probably dazzled a few NBA scouts, as the Cowboys kept pace in the upper half of the Big 12 standings with an 82-75 home win.

While the 31 points he scored, including 15 off 3-pointers, were critical, Anderson contributed in other ways with 12 rebounds, four assists, two blocks and a steal.

"It might have been one of the best complete games he's had," said Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford. "James kept competing the whole game. (He said) 'I know I'm one of the best players in this league and I'm going to affect this game in a lot of ways.'"

Getting the most from Anderson is essential because of the thin rotation Ford uses, despite desiring an up-tempo pace from the Cowboys. Of course the pop Anderson provides is especially good against zones, which Baylor plays almost exclusively on defense.

"Passing, rebounding and defending -- we didn't have an answer for him," said Baylor coach Scott Drew, "and I don't know that anybody has."

If Anderson continues to show the same versatility over the Cowboys' stretch run, voters may have no choice but to name him the player of the year in the loaded Big 12.

--A Feb. 20 victory over No. 22 Baylor probably helped Oklahoma State so much that it removed the Cowboys from the NCAA Tournament bubble. Nonetheless, coach Travis Ford vows not to get into any such discussions with his team, even though he pays close attention to the movement of teams as it relates to the NCAA field. Ford even allowed himself to say Oklahoma State is off the bubble, responding to question with, "Oh, I think so, yeah."

--It's common for teams to shoot better at home and Oklahoma State is no exception inside Gallagher-Iba Arena. In their last home games (wins against Oklahoma and Baylor), the Cowboys shot 51.3 percent from the field and 52.8 percent from 3-point range. Against the Bears, both G James Anderson and G Keiton Page made 5 of 8 treys.

ON THE SPOT: G James Anderson is the constant threat Oklahoma State depends on to provide offensive punch. But too much attention on Anderson can cause trouble for opponents. Other Cowboys are capable of scoring in streaks as F Obi Muonelo proved in a Feb. 17 victory at Iowa State, netting 21 straight points for the Cowboys at one point before settling for 31.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Not once have we talked about (the NCAA Tournament) remotely, because it's not about that with this team. This time last year, we talked about it every day with our team. Every day. We talked about where we were, what we might need to do and how it would be great to make the tournament because you had guys who had never made it sitting in that locker room." -- Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford.

SEASON RECAP: The bulk of the wins Oklahoma State has fashioned into a 7-5 record in the Big 12 came off the strength of two three-game winning streaks. The Cowboys are enjoying such a string after victories against Oklahoma, Iowa State and Baylor snapped a three-game losing streak. Although Oklahoma State takes more 3-pointers than any Big 12 rival except Oklahoma, the Cowboys rank 11th in the conference in 3-point accuracy, as well as defending the arc.

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

Oklahoma State 97, Oklahoma 76
Oklahoma State 69, Iowa State 64
Oklahoma State 82, Baylor 75

at Texas, Wednesday, Feb. 24
vs. Kansas, Saturday, Feb. 27
at Texas A&M, Wednesday, March 3
vs. Nebraska, Saturday, March 6
at Big 12 Tournament, March 10-13

IN FOCUS: Oklahoma State has two Big 12 road wins, including an upset at Kansas State. Winning at Texas is possible, though the Longhorns were tough defensively in the 72-60 loss they handed the Cowboys in Stillwater the first time the teams met. Attempting to capitalize on home-court advantage will be critical against Kansas, which figures to still be undefeated in conference play when it rolls in. Depth will be an issue for the Cowboys against both the Longhorns and Jayhawks.

--F Matt Pilgrim posted a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds against Baylor. Pilgrim appears to be growing more comfortable in the Oklahoma State system after sitting out last season as a transfer from Kentucky.

--G Keiton Page scored 22 points against Baylor. The output gave him 81 points over a four-game stretch, with 17 assists and five turnovers.

--F Obi Muonelo contributed a season-best 31 points against Iowa State, including 21 straight over one stretch. He followed with 11 points, six rebounds and six assists against Baylor. Muonelo has connected on 13 of 24 shots from 3-point range in the past three games.

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