STILLWATER - After one half of play, things were going all Oklahoma State's way.
But by the halfway point of the second half, the game seemed to be slipping away from the Cowboys. In the end, OSU wasn't able to stand toe to toe with No. 9 Texas and the Longhorns were able to pull out of town with a 72-60 victory in front of a rowdy 11,096 fans inside Gallagher-Iba Arena on Big Monday.
The Cowboys (16-6 overall, 4-4 Big 12) were propelled in the early going by a herculean effort by James Anderson, who had 24 first half points. Another bright spot was offered by Matt Pilgrim, who was able to battle the Longhorns down low and provide some offense which helped the Pokes build an 11-point lead with 5:26 left in the first period.
But the Horns (19-3, 5-2) took all the punches the Pokes could muster and were able to cut that OSU lead down to only four by intermission. From there, UT came out in the second half and, in workmanlike fashion, slowly pulled away, going up 63-53 with six minutes to go and never really looking back.
To use a cliché term, it really was a tale of two halves.
"We just put up no resistance in the second half - no resistance whatsoever," Travis Ford said. "Obviously we let them shoot 60 percent from the field and it's very tough going against them when they're on a roll and they've got their talent really just taking over. They are good, they're just really good. We just didn't put up much of a fight in the second half."
In the first frame, Anderson led the way and Pilgrim had some nice moments - including a 33-second span where he collected two rebounds, a block, a slam dunk and an assist that led to an Anderson trey. It was there that the Pokes started their roll. But it didn't last the entire half, as UT was able to chip away at a 27-16 disadvantage at the 5:28 mark to get the deficit down to four at halftime.
After that, the Longhorns slowly turned the tide, taking a 46-45 lead at 12:02 in the second stanza and never losing that advantage the rest of the way. Damion James had 14 for UT, but the real story on offense for the Horns was Jordan Hamilton, who scored 27 points after only playing two minutes in their last game against Texas Tech.
He literally came out of nowhere to snakebite the Cowboys.
"He played two minutes the last game
so, no," said Ford in regards to if his performance was expected. But then he retracted that a bit. "We say that, but then yeah, we have seen him go off. We did know that every time he touches it he's going to shoot it. We know that. And we talked about that. But, a great team like Texas, you can pick and choose your weapons. 'Eh, let's try him and see how he does.' Rick (Barnes) does a great job managing those players and they played really well tonight."
For OSU, it really was Anderson and nothing else. Sure, Pilgrim had 11 points (and 10 rebounds), but sat out seven minutes of the second half with four fouls. Obi Muonelo posted 12 points, but did it fairly quietly. The rest of the team scored nine points. And the absence of Ray Penn showed again, as Keiton Page struggled at the point, going 0-of-5 from the field with zero points, three assists and three turnovers. Basically, when Anderson gassed out, there was no other option for the Pokes.
"I thought he got a little tired in the second half. We rode him as long as we could in the first half and put so much pressure on him and then they did a good job too, don't get me wrong. They came out and put (Dogus) Balbay on him and Balbay did a pretty good job on him. But he was a little fatigued and that's not his fault. We've just got to get him a little bit of help."
With Anderson and his amazing skills, it really is a situation of being a victim of your success. He contributes so consistently and so amazingly, it almost doesn't matter what the rest of the team does - until he's either contained or trailed off. Ford said it is and isn't concerning to him.
"In the first half, nobody had a chance because he was dominating the game. It's not like we were wanting anyone else to shoot. And we had to let him keep doing it and doing his thing. But you are a little concerned. At halftime I told our guys that James wasn't going to be able to do this by himself, so someone else is going to step up here. He's not going to go out and have 24 points again - they're not going to let him do that. They're just not going to let him do that. So who else is going to step up? And some guys tried - Marshall (Moses) had a little bit better second half - but just not enough help. I told our team, to beat a Texas, our team, where we're at, we have to play perfect. We really do. Things have to go our way. Our team has limitations, especially against a team like Texas."
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