“Everybody’s game plan is to stop Keiton Page and bear-hug him,” said Cowboys coach Travis Ford, who clearly didn’t care for how the game was officiated. “That’s what they do, they bear-hug him. He comes off screens and they bump into him.
“I’ve got friends in this league. We talk. ‘Be physical with Keiton Page.’ Everybody talks about it. I know what they’re doing. I guess you can’t call them all. But c’mon, if anyone deserves it, the kid deserves it.”
It was a game that begged for other Cowboys to ride to Page’s rescue. Instead, no other player made more than three baskets.
Le’Bryan Nash, OSU’s second-leading scorer, managed just four points and four shots. Markel Brown had 14 points, but on 3-of-9 shooting.
During one ugly 15-minute stretch – from the 4-minute mark of the first half until 8:59 remained in the game – the Cowboys didn’t make a field goal.
“When (Page) has a tough day, we’ve got to get everybody else stepping up,” said Brian Williams, who had nine points. “If he’s having a good day, we’ll keep feeding him.
“Nights like tonight, they happen. We’ve just got to go back the drawing board and work on our Plan Bs more.”
K-State’s plan went awry, too.
After a hot start, the ’Cats cooled considerably, shooting just 30.8 percent in the second half. Missing free throws, too, they allowed the Cowboys to hang around late, before a final spurt put the game away.
“When you get that close to a ranked team, you’ve got to hold on to it and keep pressing, fighting,” said freshman forward Michael Cobbins. “We were right there.
“We let this one slip.”