KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Keiton Page didn't want it to end.
Not like this, especially.
Not on the wrong end of a blowout, with a complete absence of drama over the game's final 35 minutes, the way Thursday night's exit from Big 12 Tournament played out at the Sprint Center.
Missouri 88, Oklahoma State 70.
And not even Page, who had been willing every last point from his Pawnee Pistol persona during his career's final weeks, could do anything about it.
Page gave the Cowboys 22 points and urged the young teammates he's been shepherding along for more. Anything more just wasn't there, not when it still mattered.
“When you let Missouri play to their strength, there's not many teams better in the country,” said OSU coach Travis Ford. “There's not.
“When they're playing their best, then can beat anybody really at their best, I believe. They're that good. And when they're on a roll and you give them confidence early, they're as good as it gets.”
And the Cowboys helped spike Mizzou's confidence, turning the ball over carelessly to surrender frequent fast-break points while making just 9 of 25 shots from the floor.
The Tigers, the tournament's No. 2 seed and the nation's No. 7 squad, led 16-6 barely five minutes into the game, 30-9 a short time later and 49-24 at the half. Just like that, they were finished.
And now the season is finished, at 15-18, the program's first losing record since 1987-88, when Leonard Hamilton's second team ended 14-16.
On the bright side, the Cowboys lose just one player from this team and will welcome back four former starters from injury and redshirt, as well as bring in a recruiting class led by McDonald's All-American Marcus Smart.
Trouble is, the player their losing is Page, who peeled off his OSU uniform for the final time Thursday night, finishing as the Cowboys No. 7 all-time scorer and the school's career leader in 3-pointers and minutes played.
“It's going to be tough,” Page said, “especially coming from a guy that's wanted to be a Cowboy since he was little.”
Page envisioned so much more for his Cowboys career, which started with consecutive trips to the NCAA Tournament. But in his last two seasons, the program went in reverse, although he remained the team's one constant, as a scorer and a leader.
And Page, the consummate Cowboy, refuses to reveal any regrets.
“It's been the best,” Page said, “it's been a fast four years, but it's definitely been the best four years of my life. To play with great, great teammates and then be put in a great opportunity under this coaching staff and great position… just a million memories I'll never forget.”
Page made 8 of 16 shots from the floor and 6 of 12 3-pointers against Missouri, still firing away at the end.
And with 53 seconds left, Ford pulled Page, resulting in quite a scene.
Fans in the Sprint Center, and not just those wearing orange, but black and gold and burnt orange and all the colors of the Big 12, rose to offer a standing ovation.
“That's just straight respect right there,” said OSU redshirt freshman Brian Williams. “He's been around the last four years, distributing baskets, he's on everybody's scouting reports. He's won a lot of big games and beaten a lot of big teams. That will be a big loss for Oklahoma State and the Big 12.”
Page missed the salute as he made his way down the bench, exchanging moments with every Cowboys coach and player.
“I was giving out hugs at that time. But it means a lot,” Page said. “When opposing fans stand up and cheer for you, just out of respect, to know that means a lot.”