KSU defense bottles up Cowboys’ Page

By Cole Manbeck

STILLWATER, Okla. — Stopping Keiton Page can be a nightmare of an experience for opposing coaches, but Kansas State did one of the best jobs anyone has done on the 5-foot-8 senior this season.

Page, Oklahoma State’s leading scorer at 14.8 points per game, exceeded his average with 17 points against the Wildcats on Saturday, but he had one of his worst shooting performances of the year in doing so. Page finished 4-of-17 from the field, and didn’t make his second shot from the floor until there was less than 5 minutes remaining, as K-State beat the Cowboys 66-58 in Gallagher-Iba Arena.

But Page can catch fire at anytime and has the ability to shoot his team back into a game in the blink of an eye. So after he made his first and only 3 with 2:01 left in the game, there was a fear that he was about to get hot in the most critical part of the contest.

“You play Oklahoma State, you let him get going and you saw what happened at the end of the game there, all of a sudden the place goes nuts, the team gets tremendous energy,” K-State coach Frank Martin said. “Like all good players you let them get a clean look and that basket gets a lot bigger, their eyes get bigger.”

Martin said the defensive effort on Page was key in Saturday’s outcome.

“You have to take away people’s strength and (Page) is their strength,” he said. “Keiton Page is one of my all-time favorite players in my 27 years of basketball. It’s not easy to do that to him because he keeps coming at you, he never gets rattled but our guys stayed the course.”

K-State used Will Spradling on Page for a large portion of the game, and Spradling constantly fought through screens to not allow the Cowboys’ star to get many good looks at the basket.

“We knew they were going to set tons of screens for Page so we focused on getting through them, and just never quit on the play,” K-State guard Angel Rodriguez said. “Will is the best defensive player when it comes to dealing with screens and stuff, that’s why Coach put him on him. He did a good job today.”

K-State also bottled up Le’Bryan Nash, Oklahoma State’s second-leading scorer. The freshman forward scored just four points in 21 minutes of action.

Over the last two games, K-State has not only held Page in check but also limited Texas guard J’Covan Brown, the Big 12’s leading scorer, to just 8-of-28 shooting in a win over the Longhorns on Wednesday.

“That’s two games in a row where we’ve gotten back to the basics,” Martin said. “You’ve got to understand, we, like every team in the country, went through a little spurt there where maybe we got a little too full of ourselves and lost a little bit of our edge of who we are. When you play that way then you’re not going to be as good at the things you’re good at.”

Game notes

• The two teams combined for 69 free throws, a season-high for a K-State game. The previous high was 61 attempts against Loyola-Chicago in the second contest of the season.

• Oklahoma State made 25-of-29 from the foul line against K-State. Over the last three games, the Wildcats’ opponents have made 66-of-76 (87 percent) from the line.

• Oklahoma State had just eight assists compared to 16 turnovers, while the Wildcats had six assists and 16 turnovers.

• The Wildcats will look to make it two in a row on the road and three straight wins overall when they play at Texas Tech on Wednesday.

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