KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The location of Wednesday night’s game was Kansas City, but maybe Oklahoma State’s Keiton Page thought he was back in Pawnee, America. Back where seemingly every jumper goes in with a flick of his wrist, where his shooting range stretches far and wide, where his point total quickly rises. As this basketball season gets down to serious business, the basketball court once again seems like home on the range for the OSU point guard. Page had non-partisan fans "oohing” and "aahing” inside the Sprint Center during the first half of the Cowboys’ 81-67 opening-round elimination of Oklahoma at the Big 12 Tournament. The former Class 2A Pawnee High School standout had 19 first-half points, going 6-for-6 from the field, 5-for-5 from 3-point range and 2-for-2 from the free-throw line. The (allegedly) 5-foot-9 sophomore finished with 24 points on 7-of-10 shooting, and also had four steals and three assists. During one sequence, OU coach Jeff Capel signaled for a timeout while a Page 3-point attempt was still in mid-flight. Shortly thereafter, an exasperated Tommy Mason-Griffin was late to defend Page, who buried another 3 directly in front of the OU bench. Mason-Griffin spun around and hung his head in frustration, disbelief, or both. Shortly thereafter, Page’s 3-point attempt clanged off the front of the rim, bounced high off the backboard and into the basket. Ooh. Aah. The kid who seemed to do little right earlier this season can now seemingly do no wrong. His timing couldn’t have been better.
Thunder struckNot only is the Thunder the talk of the NBA this season, the team also has drawn attention in the Big 12 media circuit. Several reporters covering the Big 12 Tournament have inquired about the Thunder this week. The most common opinion shared? "I love watching those guys play.” Perhaps Big 12 media are allured because several Thunder players could still be in college — Kevin Durant (senior season at Texas); Russell Westbrook (senior season at UCLA): James Harden (junior season at Arizona State); and Byron Mullens (sophomore year at Ohio State).
Lightning strikeWith its 75-60 victory over No. 5-seeded Missouri on Wednesday in the second game, Nebraska became only the second No. 12 seed to win in the tournament. Bottom-seeded Colorado beat Baylor in double-overtime two years ago at the Sprint Center. Coupled with No. 9-seeded Texas Tech’s 82-67 victory over No. 8-seeded Colorado, this is the fourth straight Big 12 Tournament at least two lower-seeded teams won opening-round games. There were several stunned faces in the crowd and on media row during the NU win. "The people that follow us know our season. It’s been a tough season,” Cornhuskers coach Doc Sadler said. "I think for you all, that’s the first time that you’ve seen us play this year.” Wednesday’s loss could drop Missouri down to a No. 9 or No. 10 seed in the NCAA Tournament. "I think we’ll be fine,” MU coach Mike Anderson said.
Quotables"I think we should be in. We’re the only other (Big 12) team with a winning record.” — Texas Tech coach Pat Knight, on whether his 17-14 Red Raiders should be in the NIT. "In high school, we were ‘the man’ and only cared about scoring. I’m not going to lie, I didn’t play defense in high school. I didn’t know anything about ball screens or how to defend them or hedging. But every day we’ve gotten better and we’re learning all the tools.” — OU freshman forward Tiny Gallon "I think Willie’s out. I do. Hopefully, he comes back, but I think he’s out.” — Gallon, on whether teammate Willie Warren will return next season or declare for the NBA Draft
Spreading the wealthSeveral newspapers have All-Big 12 selections every season, but the only consensus for 2010 Big 12 coach of the year this season is that there was no consensus. The Associated Press, Big 12 coaches and the Kansas City Star selected Kansas State’s Frank Martin. The Austin American-Statesman and Fort Worth Star-Telegram chose Baylor’s Scott Drew. The Dallas Morning News and San Antonio Express-News picked Texas A&M’s Mark Turgeon. John Rohde: 475-3099, email@example.com; John Rohde can be heard Monday-Friday from 6-7 p.m. on The Sports Animal Network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1.