OSU basketball: Yor Anei shines in win at Kansas State
Oklahoma State center Yor Anei grabbed the loose ball and saw the shot clock ticking away on the opposite end of the floor.
He had to shoot his first career 3-pointer attempt. Might as well make it a serious attempt, too.
“I shot it with confidence and held my follow-through,” Anei said on the radio. “It felt good coming off. I just shot it and prayed, held my follow through and it went in.”
Tuesday night was Anei’s night.
He hit a wild 3-pointer. He had an alley-oop dunk. He didn’t even miss a shot.
And the Cowboys got their first win at Kansas State since 2017 with a 64-59 victory. OSU has won two of its past three games.
OSU (12-12, 2-9 Big 12) had not won a game against Kansas State (9-15, 2-9) since Mike Boynton was named head coach.
“I remember walking out of here with my head tucked between my legs last year,” Boynton said. “In fact, I was joking with the staff that if I’m so lucky to get to heaven, I’m going to ask the good Lord that he sent me to Manhattan, Kansas, in 2019 and what was that all about.”
In that game, Kansas State rolled to an 85-46 victory.
This victory for the Cowboys was still a grind. They made 15 of their 22 field goals near the rim. They shot 51.2 percent overall. In the second half, OSU made 13 of 16 field goals, an impressive 81.3 percent.
OSU did shoot a season-low eight 3-pointers, with Anei and senior Lindy Waters III making the only two.
“We were really conscious about trying to play inside first and second and third,” Boynton said. “Really wanted to focus on just getting the ball to the paint as much as possible, getting ourselves to the free throw line as much as possible.
“I like to think that we’re a good 3-point shooting team, but you gotta let the numbers tell you some of the story, too. The numbers show we just haven’t shot it well for whatever reason. We had to try to find other ways to have success.”
OSU entered the game making just 30.3 percent of its 3-pointers. Anei’s came with 7:32 remaining in the opening half. Waters’ 3 with 2:15 remaining sealed the win, though. It put the Cowboys ahead 59-50.
Anei’s inside presence was still the difference before then.
The 6-foot-10 sophomore made all six field goals — scoring 15 points — and grabbed seven rebounds. He also had a block.
After a dismal start to Big 12 play in which he averaged 4.8 points and 2.8 rebounds, Anei played like it was November, when he was named the NIT Season Tip-Off MVP.
“Yor was back to doing things we know he can do,” Boynton said.
With the Cowboys next playing Texas Tech on Saturday at Gallagher-Iba Arena, they have some momentum.
And it starts with Anei.
“I got all the confidence I need to play,” Anei said.