Page, Cowboys Roll Tide

OKLAHOMA CITY – Some of the most talented athletes to ever play college basketball have earned Most Valuable Player honors in the All-College over the years, including Pete Maravich, Elgin Baylor, Wayman Tisdale, and most recently James Anderson. You can add Keiton Page to that list following his performance Saturday night in leading Oklahoma State to a 68-60 victory over Alabama.

The 5-foot-10 Page scored a game-high 20 points, including 10 points in the last nine minutes, to earn Most Valuable Player honors in leading the Cowboys to the eight-point victory in the nationally televised game against a Crimson Tide team that scared Travis Ford with its athletic ability.

"I think it'll be one of the most athletic teams we face all year. One through five they have an extremely athletic team," said Page, who led the way as the Cowboys final 14 points all came from the free-throw line, and the Cowboy junior led the way with seven from the charity stripe.

The Cowboys led 30-16 at halftime but the Crimson Tide scored on 16 of 19 second-half possessions – outscoring OSU 33-22 during that stretch – to pull within 43-40. But Page and Ray Penn's hit three-pointers to answer the call, and then Oklahoma State was 14-of-18 from the foul line in the game's final 6:09 to hold on for the victory.

Oklahoma State improves to 10-1 with the victory, while Alabama is now 5-6.

"That's a good win for our basketball team coming off a long week with finals and everything," said Ford. "I just thought our first half we played very well and I think that was the difference, being able to get that lead (at halftime) and executing especially the last couple of minutes of the first half.

"We made plays tonight when we need to. We didn't play particularly well in the second half but every time they would make a run ... I don't think we let it get under four. It's a good win for our basketball team. We're happy to get out with a win," Ford added.

Ford was impressed with the play of both Page and Penn, who combined for 32 points and nine assists while both played more than 35 minutes. Page finished with 20 points and two assists, while Penn contributed 12 points, 7 assists, 3 rebounds and a steal.

Alabama head coach Anthony Grant was impressed with the play of Page. "He's got a tremendous gift in his ability to shoot the basketball. Anytime you have somebody that can do that there's always a place for them to play. I think he certainly provides a lot for his team, and today he had 20 points to lead his team, and made his free throws. You always have people's expectations that can be out of whack a little bit but I think he's a very good player," Grant said.

Marshall Moses sees every day in practice what Grant got to see for the first time Saturday night, and says that Page's detractors know not of what they speak.

"I think if you don't have any critics than you're probably not a good player. I think the better you are the more people are going to dislike you and find reasons for how good you're not ... Obviously, Keiton is a big-time player. He's a Big 12 player," Moses said.

"He can get off on anybody in the country on any given night, and he's proved that his whole career here, even as a freshman. I think if anyone says anything negative about him, it's just being a hater more than anything. I hope they (underestimate him) because the more and more they underestimate him the more and more he'll finish with 20 points every night because he's that good of a player."

The Cowboys used an 11-0 run in the final two minutes of the first half to go up 30-16 at hafltime. But instead of putting the Crimson Tide away in the opening minutes of the second half they allowed them to get back in the game by turning the ball over on three of their first five possessions.

Oklahoma State turned the ball over 12 times in the game, with both Page and Penn having four each. Ford would normally be upset with his two guards making that many mistakes but instead said they played well considering what they faced in a pressing Crimson Tide squad for much of the game.

"I thought he did a terrific job of handling the ball, making his free throws. I thought Ray and Keiton did a good job for going against the press as much as they did of handling the ball and running our team," Ford said.

"It was sloppy the whole game, the first half and the second half," Page said. "We just let their pressure get to us a little too much, we had too many turnovers, mainly me and Ray in particular.

"Tonight was a sloppy win, but win and learn is better than lose and learn, so we'll take it."

The only other Cowboy to score in double figures in Saturday's victory was Jean-Paul Olukemi with 10 points. Marshall Moses finished with nine points and six rebounds, while Matt Pilgrim added seven points and seven rebounds.

Ford knows that the 5-10, 157-pound Page didn't look as good as Alabama guards Charles Hankerson (6-5, 210), Trevor Releford (6-1, 180) or Charvez Davis (6-3, 186), but he wouldn't trade him.

"I put a lot of pressure on him. I'm hard on him because I know that he can handle it. Plus, I have high expectations for him. I know sometimes he's looking at me like, goodness what else can I do. But I've got an incredible amount of respect (for him)," said Ford. "I think he's a great player. I know what he means to our team. So I'm going to stay on top of him.

"We've had a long week and this took a lot out of us. Normally we'd be celebrating after beating a good Alabama team but there wasn't much going on in our locker room ... at all. It's been a long week and these guys are worn out."

The Cowboys don't have much time to recover as they return to action Tuesday night against Stanford in the Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series at Gallagher-Iba Arena. Tipoff is set for 8 p.m.

GoPokes Top Stories