STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) — Yor Anei found multiple ways to help the Oklahoma State men’s basketball team stay undefeated.
Anei scored 13 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and blocked five shots and the Cowboys beat Western Michigan 70-63 on Friday night in a campus game of the NIT Season Tip-Off tournament.
The sophomore starting center had his third double-double and his 11th game with four or more blocks.
“He’s playing with more confidence in there,” coach Mike Boynton said. “Playing better on balance, and obviously being as effective as he was on the defensive end in terms of being a rim protector.”
Thomas Dziagwa added 11 points for OSU (5-0) and Isaac Likekele scored 10 points and four steals, including three steals within the first four minutes.
The Broncos stayed close throughout the game and closed to 35-34 at halftime after Michael Flowers nailed a 3-pointer with three seconds left in the first half.
The score was tied at 61 with 2:28 left, but Anei made an alley-oop dunk to put OSU up 63-61. The Cowboys led the rest of the game.
“I’ve said this before, give me all of these two-, three-, four-possession games this time of year,” Boynton said. “Because I know for a fact, when the calendar turns (to Big 12 play), that’s what we’re dealing with.”
The Cowboys shot 37.5% from the field and 7 of 25 from beyond the arc.
OSU had 22 bench points and every available first-year Cowboy played.
The Broncos (4-2) shot 40% from the field (23 of 57) and made nine of 29 shots from 3 (31%).
“Another possession game, another opportunity for our team to learn how to win in close games late,” Boynton said. “Credit to our players for making the plays late, especially, I thought Yor was really, really active defensively and helped seal the game for us.”
Anei’s presence was especially valuable to the Cowboys because their depth at the post position was limited.
Boynton said freshman Kalib Boone didn’t play because he had a 103-degree fever. Hidde Roessink, a freshman who injured his left knee in the second game of the season, sat on the bench but didn’t play.
Boynton has emphasized rebounding recently, and the Cowboys responded Friday night.
OSU outrebounded WMU 45-36. Even when the Cowboys’ shots weren’t falling, gaining possession of the ball was critical to their win.
Freshman Keylan Boone had eight rebounds, third behind Anei and senior Lindy Waters III (9). In a five-minute span, Boone racked up five boards.
“His mind was in the right place, that he was coming in to try to make a difference (for) our team without necessarily scoring a bunch of points,” Boynton said. “The more he can get everybody buying into that, the more opportunities we’re going to have to have success moving forward.”
OSU: Although the Cowboys struggled with offensive droughts at times, they pieced together a victory to keep their undefeated record intact.
Western Michigan: The Broncos didn’t surrender easily, but they couldn’t overcome OSU’s aggressive defense.
OSU will look to maintain its unblemished record when it travels to coach Mike Boynton’s home city of Brooklyn, New York, and faces Syracuse (3-1) on Wednesday in the NIT Season Tip-Off.
Western Michigan will head to Orlando, Florida, for the NIT Season Tip-Off. The Broncos will take on Yale, which most recently defeated Siena in triple overtime.