STILLWATER — James Anderson showed up Saturday with an achy back, creating a stir that he’d be questionable to play against No. 1 Kansas.
Nonsense, of course, for a guy nicknamed “Big Game” James.
“I was going to play regardless,” Anderson said. “I could have been with a broken leg, I was going to drag it all the way down the court.” That wasn’t necessary, although despite the bad back, on the big stage, Big Game James saddled up the Cowboys for an 85-77 upset stunning for its seeming ease.
Anderson posted game-highs of 27 points, eight rebounds and two blocked shots, adding three assists and two steals to all but cinch Oklahoma State’s place in the NCAA Tournament. But Anderson had help, too, plenty of help, with the Cowboys shooting 60.4 percent from the floor as a team and four players finishing in double figures scoring, with Matt Pilgrim adding 18, Obi Muonelo 17 and Keiton Page 12.
Kansas led only briefly in the first half and OSU owned as much as a 19-point advantage – the largest on the Jayhawks all season.
The Cowboys snapped KU’s 13-game winning streak and handed the Jayhawks their first Big 12 defeat.
OSU improved to 20-8 overall and 8-6 in conference play, while Kansas fell to 27-2 and 13-1.
Anderson tweaked his back in Friday’s practice and was suffering back spasms still Saturday morning, showing little improvement.
“I was really concerned,” said OSU coach Travis Ford. “I didn’t sleep well at all last night.
“But I thought adrenaline would kick in.”
Did it ever.
Anderson made a statement in the Big 12 Player of the Year race, outplaying what many believe to be his two chief rivals — KU’s Sherron Collins and Cole Aldrich.
Collins eventually scored 22, but missed his first six shots and suffered through six turnovers. Aldrich had 11 points and five rebounds, but was benched for much of the second half as OSU’s big men — Pilgrim and Marshall Moses – combined to go 12-for-12 from the floor and total 26 points.