STILLWATER —With 33 seconds remaining in a feel-good game Saturday, Cowboys coach Travis Ford subbed for Keiton Page, sharing a private moment with his senior captain on the sideline while an appreciative crowd at Gallagher-Iba Arena roared its approval.
Pretty soon, it was the other coach's turn, with Texas' Rick Barnes stopping Page for an extended chat all the way down near the Oklahoma State bench.
And it wasn't even Senior Night; not until Feb. 27.
But it was Page's day.
Playing out the final weeks of his Cowboys career, still championing the growth of a scuffling young team, Page struck for a career-high 40 points, shouldering OSU's 90-78 win over the Longhorns.
“It was just an incredible effort,” Ford said. “Great, great effort. The guy gets 40 points and the other team's whole game plan is to stop him. That's pretty good.
“I just told him that's one of the most impressive performances I have seen, that I have been part of as a coach. He's not the biggest guy in the world and their whole game plan is to play on top of him. What he did is not easy to do. He continues to impress.”
Count Barnes in the club, even though the Longhorns had regularly had Page's number.
“I think as a coach you always have respect for a guy who you know he maximizes his ability and when he plays, he plays with a passion and intensity,” Barnes said. “And I'm not sure he hasn't been guarded harder than any player in the four years he's been here.
“Nobody tries to give him anything, because he is capable of shooting it deep. I've enjoyed competing against him. In the four years here, he's had to compete for everything he has gotten and he's made himself quite a player.”
And no team apparently had made Page work harder than the Longhorns.
Before Saturday, Page had totaled just 36 points in seven career games against Texas, making but 8 of 40 shots from the floor. He'd been held scoreless just two times the past three seasons, both times by Texas — the past two meetings inside Gallagher-Iba Arena.
He had eight field goals in this game, including four 3-pointers, to go with a 20-of-20 effort from the foul line, taking full advantage of a Longhorns' defensive approach designed to first halt him.
Not this time.
“A player like Keiton, when he gets going, he gets going,” Barnes said. “We started leaving our feet, fouling him, bailing him out. I think you have to give him a lot of credit.
“We gave him separation and he knocked down shots. He got to the foul line and we fouled him in ways we shouldn't and ways we haven't in the past. But give him credit because he kept working and kept doing what he's doing. He played a terrific game.
Saturday's box score: OSU 90, Texas 78