Pokes Hold Western Michigan Under Season Average in Win over Broncos

Zach Lancaster

STILLWATER -- As has become the norm to start the season for the Pokes, it was an very close game from start to finish between Oklahoma State and Western Michigan. But, as what's happened in each of the games, the Cowboys have found a way to pull out the win going away as they topped Western Michigan 70-63.

The 63 points Oklahoma State held the Broncos to is just the second-lowest total of the season for Western Michigan. The lowest came in an 85-58 loss to Ole Miss last week.

With the win, Oklahoma State moved to 5-0 on the season, the first time in the Mike Boynton era, as well as the first time since the 2014-15 season under former head coach Travis Ford.

"It was a really good game,” said head coach Mike Boynton. “The two teams were battling, possession by possession. There were several times where the lead was five or six and we had a chance to push it to 10 or 12. Not that they would give in at that point, but you'd feel more comfortable at that position. They kept fighting. Credit to their coach and his team for playing most of the game without arguably their best player. They are a pretty resilient bunch. They are going to be a problem in the MAC and this win will hold up later in the year."

The final two minutes of the game were clutch for the Pokes, especially the veterans. Big man Yor Anei flushed an alley-oop from point guard Isaac Likekele with just over two minutes remaining in the ball game to put the Pokes back on top 63-61.

A minute later, he hauled in his 11th rebound on the night, and got the bucket that put the Pokes up 65-61.

Anei finished the game leading the Pokes in scoring with 13 points. He also posted a team-high 12 rebounds and five blocks. It was the third double-double of Anei's career, and he also posted his 100th career block tonight.

His five blocks moved him up the list to 10th in school history.

"I thought he was really good today, in terms of slowing it down in the paint," said coach Boynton. "He probably should have had 18 or 20 points, he missed a couple of free throws and some layups. I thought his activity on both ends of the court, in terms of putting pressure on them by posting up, offensively; and defensively he blocked five shots for us."

The largest lead for Oklahoma State was just eight points and that came with just six minutes left to go in the first half. But in close games like this, the difference comes down to just a few stats: points in the paint, rebounds and free throws, and Oklahoma State led in all three categories.

They scored Western Michigan in the paint 34-18, out-rebounded them 45-36 and shot nine more free throws then the Broncos while making as many as they attempted: 15.

"These guys really love playing for each other and that's really what's given us a chance early where we haven't shot well," said coach Boynton. "Our guys haven't gone into their own world. Sometimes that happens where you worry about how things are going for you personally. Our guys have really stuck with one another, encouraging each other even when we've been struggling. That's why we've been finding ways to win games, even when we haven't made shots at a really high level."

The next time out on the court for Oklahoma State will be on Wednesday, Nov. 27 in Brooklyn, NY against Syracuse for the NIT Season Tip-Off. The game is scheduled to start at 6:30 p.m. CT and be televised on ESPN2.

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