The crowd reacts after Oklahoma State's Keiton Page (12) made a basket besideTexas' Myck Kabongo (12) during an NCAA college basketball game between Oklahoma State University (OSU) and the University of Texas (UT) at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, Feb. 18, 2012. Oklahoma State won 90-78. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman
He had 27 by halftime Saturday, punctuated by a pullup, 25-foot 3-pointer at the buzzer to put the Cowboys up 51-39 at intermission.
It was a stunning half for Page, who made 5 of 7 shots from the floor, 3 of 4 from the arc and 14 of 14 from the foul line, drawing fouls while driving to the hole, pump-faking 3-pointers or just trying to evade chasing Longhorns.
“We knew previously at Texas, they played on top of me quite a bit,” Page said. “(Coach Ford) just said, ‘Be aggressive, go to the hole.'
“I tried to go to the foul line quite a bit. I think I did a good job of that tonight.”
Said Texas' J'Covan Brown: “He was getting calls. He just stayed physical. He went to the line 20 times … that's unbelievable, you know? Just give credit to him.”
Even Cowboys teammate Le'Bryan Nash had fun with Page's parade to the foul line, where his 20 makes tied the most by a player in Big 12 history and established a record for the most without a miss.
“I guess he talked to the refs before the game and said, ‘Can you get me to the free throw line?' ” Nash said.
“I thought it was a high school game for him. I look at his high school highlights and that's what he was doing in high school. He had a great game. He stepped up as a senior.”
The Cowboys led most of the way, but had to stave off an early push by Texas in the second half, when the Longhorns cut what was a 14-point margin to three, 61-58, with 10:16 to play.
But OSU answered with its own surge, marked by Page's final 3, and finally put the game away at the foul line, making 13 of 14 free throws over the final 2:57.
The Cowboys improved to 13-14 overall and 6-8 in the Big 12, snapping a two-game losing streak. The Longhorns, who had won four straight, fell to 17-10 and 7-7.
Page snapped his personal problem with Texas.
He said he didn't know just how bad his stats had been against the Longhorns, yet was well aware of his struggles, which came with reminders from assistant coach Butch Pierre.
“Coach Pierre, he jokes around with me quite a bit,” Page said. “He knows everybody's stats. Any game where some guy plays good defense on you or a team plays good defense on you, he's quick to let you know.
“So he's always giving me a hard time about Texas.”