STILLWATER — After the Big 12 Conference’s leading scorer, James Anderson, managed only two first-half points on Wednesday night, his Oklahoma State teammate, Obi Muonelo, asked him the obvious question: Is something wrong?
Anderson said he felt fine, then proved it in the second half, finishing with 19 points, a career-high seven assists and six rebounds as the Cowboys extended their home winning streak to 16 games with a 76-69 win over Texas A&M.
Muonelo complemented Anderson’s effort with a season-high 24 points, finishing 6 of 9 from 3-point range to key the Cowboys’ school-record 66.7 percent (12 of 18) shooting from behind the arc. Oklahoma State (16-4, 4-2) shot a season-best 57.9 percent overall and won its third straight game, a run that includes a road win on Saturday over then-No. 10 Kansas State.
“We all knew James was coming. He’s such an aggressive scorer,” Muonelo said. “… In the second half, he got started, and once he hit his first shot, I knew he was going to be all right.”
The Cowboys overcame the absence of starting point guard Ray Penn, who has a stress reaction-type knee injury and missed his second straight game. His replacement in the starting lineup, Fred Gulley, scored eight points.
“You’re always a little concerned about a game like this, after coming off a big victory like we had Saturday,” Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford said. “I debated all the way home … about how much to really talk to our team about not having a letdown.
“I decided not to talk to them about it. … We just talked about things we needed to do to prepare to be successful about Texas A&M and focus.”
Donald Sloan scored 27 points to lead Texas A&M (14-6, 3-3), which lost despite going 10 of 24 from 3-point range. The Aggies are 1-4 this season in road games.
Oklahoma State won on the ninth anniversary of a plane crash that killed 10 men associated with the Cowboys’ program. It was only the second time since the crash that Oklahoma State has played on the anniversary.
Anderson extended his double-figure scoring streak to 34 games, tying Richard Dumas for the second-longest such streak in school history. He also became the 10th Oklahoma State player to score 1,500 career points, ending the game with 1,518.
Anderson didn’t score until the final two minutes of the first half. But Muonelo scored 13 first-half points, including the first eight for the Cowboys, as they raced to a 13-2 lead. His third 3-pointer put the Cowboys up 20-10 at the 7:41 mark, but Texas A&M closed the half on a 16-6 run to make it 26-26.
“The first 10 minutes is about as bad as we’ve played all year,” Texas A&M coach Mark Turgeon said. “We kind of woke up a bit and made it a game at half.”
Texas A&M took its first lead on a basket by Bryan Davis 18 seconds into the second half. The teams swapped the lead five more times before a noticeably more aggressive Anderson took over.
“I challenged him,” Ford said of Anderson. “I was not happy the way he played in the first half. He’s one of the best players in America and he’s got to understand that when the game starts, people’s game plan is to try and stop him. They’re going to be physical with him. They’re going to bump him. And he’s got to counter that.”
Stuck behind the 3-point line with the shot clock running down, Anderson drew a foul from the Aggies’ Dash Harris and converted two of three free throws. Then, after an A&M miss, he grabbed the rebound and went coast-to-coast, scoring on a driving layup. That put the Cowboys up 41-36 with 13:25 left and drew an immediate time-out from Turgeon.
“I just thought their best player took over the game,” Turgeon said. “He took over the game shooting it, driving it, getting to the foul line. He was the one guy we talked about in every time-out, and he just took over the game.”
Keiton Page scored 16 points for Oklahoma State. Moses, who averaged 11.3 rebounds in the Cowboys’ previous four games, had 11 as Oklahoma State posted a 30-19 edge on the boards.
Harris and David Loubeau each scored 14 points for the Aggies.