By MURRAY EVANS
Associated Press Writer
STILLWATER (AP) — Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford heard the chants from the orange-clad faithful directed at junior star James Anderson: “One more year! One more year!”
“I was chanting it too,” Ford joked.
If Anderson decides to give up his senior season to play in the NBA, he left the fans at Gallagher-Iba Arena with another lasting impression, scoring 25 points to lead the Cowboys to a 74-55 rout of Nebraska on Saturday afternoon in the regular-season finale for both teams.
Oklahoma State (21-9, 9-7 Big 12) clinched a winning record in conference play and likely also sealed a berth in the NCAA tournament. The Cowboys will be the seventh seed in the Big 12 tournament in Kansas City, Mo., and will play Oklahoma in the first round. The Cowboys and Sooners split a pair of regular-season games.
Oklahoma State has won four straight games against Nebraska (14-17, 2-14). Brandon Richardson scored 16 points for the Cornhuskers, who have lost 14 of their last 16 games and finished last in the Big 12.
Anderson, the Big 12’s leading scorer, went 9 of 15 from the field. Nebraska had no answer for the 6-foot-6 guard, who’s nicknamed “Big Game James” for his penchant to come through when the Cowboys need him most. He left the game with 2:14 left to a standing ovation.
Ford said Anderson wouldn’t decide whether to stay at Oklahoma State until after the season but said he’d enjoy continuing to coach him if only because of Anderson’s humble personality.
“It’s remarkable the type of young man he is,” said Ford, who continues to promote Anderson for conference and national awards. “It’s too good to be true at times.”
Ford expressed dismay that Anderson’s name had not appeared on some media lists of candidates for national player-of-the-year honors.
“If you’re not mentioning his name (on a list of) 10 guys, then you might want to cover football, really,” Ford said.
The chants for Anderson began after he hit an acrobatic shot in the lane and drew a foul with 16:22 left. At that point, he had scored 21 points, while Nebraska had 23.
Nebraska coach Doc Sadler was emphatic when asked if Anderson was the Big 12’s best player: “No question.”
The Huskers played without their leading scorer, Ryan Anderson, who injured an ankle Wednesday night in a loss to Colorado. But the way the Cowboys shot in the first half — going 9 of 15 from 3-point range — it probably wouldn’t have mattered.
“We’re not a very good basketball team defensively,” Sadler said. “That’s disappointing to sit here and say that as a coach, but that’s a fact.”
Nebraska made its first three 3-point attempts and led 9-8 after a 3-pointer by Lance Jeter less than four minutes into the game, but the Huskers managed only one basket during the next 11 minutes and didn’t hit another 3-pointer the rest of the game, finishing 3 of 13.
Meanwhile, for much of the first half, it seemed like Oklahoma State couldn’t miss.
“It gives you great confidence when you’re making shots like that,” Ford said. “It makes your defense better. Nebraska came out and made their first three 3s. I called a timeout, I changed up a few things, our guys paid attention and we didn’t give up another one from that point on.”
Even as Nebraska burned three timeouts in a vain attempt to stem the tide, the Cowboys went on a 22-2 run, highlighted by three 3-pointers by reserve guard Nick Sidorakis. Anderson’s layup with 6:30 left in the half made it 30-11.
“I don’t know how long we were on 11 points, but it was for a while,” Sadler said.
Oklahoma State led 38-19 at halftime — Nebraska’s lowest-scoring half of the season. The Cowboys started the second half on a 15-6 spurt to push their lead to 53-25 with 15:44 left, and the Huskers came no closer than 19 points the rest of the way.
Sidorakis, who entered the game with eight 3-pointers all season, went 4 of 6 from behind the arc and scored a career-high 12 points. Obi Muonelo, Oklahoma State’s only senior, scored 13 points and hit 3 of 8 3-point shots.
“When one guy starts making 3s on our team, it’s contagious,” Muonelo said.
Matt Pilgrim had eight points and 10 rebounds for Oklahoma State, while Christian Standhardinger scored 14 points for Nebraska.