STILLWATER — James Anderson showed up Saturday with a barking back, setting off a stir that he’d be questionable to play against No. 1 Kansas.
Nonsense, of course, for a guy tagged "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, and despite the bad back, on the big stage, Big Game James saddled up the Cowboys for an 85-77 upset before an announced sellout crowd of 13,611 at Gallagher-Iba Arena.
Anderson posted game-highs of 27 points, eight rebounds and two blocked shots, and also added three assists and two steals to all but clinch Oklahoma State’s place in the NCAA Tournament and stake his claim as Big 12 Player of the Year.
But Anderson had help, too, plenty of help, with the Cowboys shooting 60.4 percent from the floor as a team and four players scoring in double figures, with Matt Pilgrim adding 18, Obi Muonelo 17 and Keiton Page 15.
Well aware of the task before them, facing a Kansas team that hadn’t yet lost in Big 12 Conference play, Cowboys coach Travis Ford pondered what it would take to produce arguably the biggest win of his time at OSU.
"I made a comment to our coaching staff that, ‘We’re going to need at least four guys to bring their A game today,’” Ford said.
"We had seven guys bring their A game today.”
Fred Gulley didn’t score, but grabbed six rebounds and handed out four assists. Marshall Moses broke out of his recent funk to provide eight points and seven boards. And Nick Sidorakis played solid defense in 25 minutes.
The Cowboys also had a rocking Gallagher-Iba on their side, with the biggest and rowdiest crowd this season.
"Kansas is a great team, and we all knew what they were bringing in here,” Page said. When you have got a crowd like that behind you in Gallagher and we are clicking like we are tonight, we can pretty much bring anybody in here and play with them.”
Even No. 1.
The Cowboys are just 3-6 all-time against top-ranked teams, but 3-1 in such matchups in GIA. Saturday’s win was their first over a No. 1 since the 1989 Pokes took down Oklahoma.
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.
Box score from Saturday's game