Ram-Page

STILLWATER - When Travis Ford strategically subbed Keiton Page out with less than a minute remaining in Oklahoma State's game against Texas on Saturday, he knew the ovation that would accompany the senior captain's exit from the floor. Gallagher-Iba Arena roared as the Pawnee, Okla., native embraced his coach, both knew it was a special moment even before they knew the records that were broken.

Page poured in a career-best 40 points as he propelled the Cowboys to a 90-78 victory against Texas in Stillwater. It was OSU's first win against the ‘Horns since 2009, when both Page and Ford were in their first year on campus. And as he left the floor, the Cowboys faithful poured on their appreciation of the performance.

"He deserved it. One of the assistants said when he made that one free throw, 'That's 40 points. My goodness.' I'm glad we were able to get him out and get (him) what he deserved," Ford said.

"It was great that the crowd recognized him, as you knew they would. He had just an incredible effort. You know, when a guy gets 40 points, and the other team's gameplan is to stop him, it's pretty good.

"I just told him that that was one of the most impressive performances I've seen, and that I've been part of as a coach. I mean, for him to do that again, as not the biggest guy in the world, and (Texas's) whole gameplan is to play on top of him. What he did is not easy to do. He continues to almost defy the odds. It's impressive to watch him play," Ford said.

And on Saturday it absolutely was impressive. Texas did everything it could to him. The Longhorn guards played over the top, tried to anticipate passing lanes, attempted to deny him the ball and jumped at every flinch he had with the ball in his hands.

Page's 27 first-half points were the second-most ever in one half by a Big 12 player in league competition. Kansas State's Michael Beasley scored 28 against Baylor back in 2008.

After the game, Texas coach Rick Barnes was asked if he thought Keiton Page was deserving of all-league honors.

"Based on what he did today – he played as well as anybody we've played against all year," Barnes said. "Based on today, he would be an All-American because he was terrific. I admire him for the fact that he has to work really hard and he's smart. You've just got to applaud what he did."

The Texas head coach continued to shower praise on the Cowboys' captain.

"I think as a coach you always have respect for a guy who you know he maximizes his ability and you know he plays with the passion that he plays with," he said. "I'm not sure he hasn't been guarded harder than any player in the four years he's been here, (or) in the 14 years I've been in the league. Nobody tries to give him anything because he's capable of shooting it deep. I've enjoyed competing against him, but I really do think he's had to work for everything that he's gotten and he's made himself quite a player."

Perhaps the most impressive part about Page's 40-point outing was the fact it came against Barnes' Longhorns. In seven prior meetings, maybe no team in the Big 12 had played better against Page. He totalled 36 points in those seven games before going for 40 in the eighth.

The always humble Page said he was aware of his past struggles against UT but didn't know just how bad they had been.

"Yeah, Coach (Butch) Pierre jokes around with me quite a bit," Page said. "He knows everyone's stats, and gets everybody. So, any game that a team plays good defense on you, he's quick to let you know. He's always giving me a hard time about Texas playing good defense on me."

And on Saturday, frankly, Texas still played good defense on Page. He just made them pay for it. He lured the UT guards into numerous fouls and capitalized on every opportunity he got at the line — and there were a lot of them.

Page's perfect 20-of-20 free-throw performance was the most attempts without a miss by a Big 12 player in league history. The previous high was 18-of-18 by Texas Tech's Rayford Young against Kansas in 1999.

Page's total was the second-highest in school history behind Arlen Clark's NCAA-record 24-of-24 against Colorado on March 7, 1959.

Freshman forward Le'Bryan Nash, who finished with 18 points and four rebounds, said he loves playing with guards like Page who make teams pay in a variety of ways.

"I love being around shooters. Guys like me like to drive and kick it out to them. When you have guys like that, that can shoot the ball, you try to get them the ball every time. He wasn't just shooting, he was getting to the free-throw line. He got to the line 20 times. He showed his whole offensive ability. I thought it was like a high school game to him. I looked at his high school highlights, and he was doing stuff like that in high school."

And it did look like what Page did at Pawnee High, where he averaged better than 40 points per game, as he passed his previous career-best of 29 early in the second half. But as Page and Ford were quick to point out after the game, this victory against the Longhorns has a complete team effort.

OSU's five starters combined for all 90 of OSU's points, obviously led by Page's 40 and Nash's 18. But every Cowboy player did something to stand out. Markel Brown had a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds. Michael Cobbins had 12 points, seven rebounds and four huge blocks. Brian Williams had eight points and also tied for the second-most steals by a freshman in school history with six.

"I'm just proud of how they responded today," Ford said. "We were very focused from the beginning and it's exciting to see that, you go through the stat line and everyone had an impressive stat ... Just some impressive stats from each person and that's what team is all about, getting contributions from everybody. That's what's fun.

"It's fun to see all the guys happy for Keiton. That just shows a lot about this team, I think. About how excited they were, and kept getting him the ball, and kept wanting him to get fouled.

"Good effort, because we have a lot of respect (for Texas). Texas has been playing as well as anybody in our league, and we've got a lot of respect for them, and Rick Barnes, and their ball club."


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