What happened in the 40 minutes in between was a telling display of what has made the lone Cowboy senior so beloved and revered by his teammates, coaches and fans.
Oklahoma State lost to the fourth-ranked Jayhawks 70-58 on senior night but Page put on a show in his final go-round in Gallagher-Iba Arena.
The Pawnee native entered the contest needing to make one 3-pointer to tie Randy Rutherford’s all-time school mark of 279. He needed two to pass it. He needed only two shots to accomplish both.
In all, Page hit seven 3’s on 14 attempts and led all scorers with 29 points.
"He played really well. Again, it's everybody's gameplan to stop Keiton Page, and to go out and score 29 points, that's not an easy thing to do,” coach Travis Ford said. “There aren't too many players that I know that have accomplished what he has accomplished, with the size he is. He's doing it this year with a bunch of young guys. He's leading him and he's still, I guess after tonight he'll go up to 19 points a game in this league.
“It borders on incredible that he keeps doing it.”
Incredible was the right word to use to describe Page’s performance against KU. Page was blanketed by Jayhawk senior Tyshawn Taylor, who had a measurable advantage in size at 6-foot-3 over the 5-foot-8 Page.
And make no mistake, Taylor is an NBA-caliber player.
Page fought through screens, was pushed and shoved, denied the ball on smothered once he had it. But as he has done time and time again, Page found a way.
What made it even more amazing still was the fact he and Brian Williams basically had to go it alone on the offensive end.
Of Oklahoma State’s 58 points, Page and Williams accounted for 49. In other words, without those two Kansas outscored OSU 70-9.
“We're riding (Page) and some other guys have been doing a real good job of helping. It was just one of those nights that they wanted it bad,” Ford said. “When you score 58 points and two guys score 48 or 49 of them and you're playing against the fourth ranked-team, you're going to need a little bit more than that."
What undid the Cowboys chances of a third-straight upset of a top-five KU team in Stillwater other than the lack of production from the other players was the fact that the Jayhawks had a pretty dynamic two-man show of their own.
Every time OSU struck and looked to be on the verge of making a run, Kansas had an answer. And those answers primarily came from Taylor, who had 27 points and hit 4-of-7 3’s, and national player of the year candidate Thomas Robinson, who finished with 17 points and 11 rebounds.
“They just pulled away by about 10, and we would make a play. Then, they would make a play,” Williams said. “We could never just close that gap to make it a game.”
Page seconded his teammate’s sentiments.
"We couldn't get over that hump that we needed to get over. It wasn't one particular thing. They just took us out of our offense early, and our defense wasn't the kind of defense we know we're capable of playing,” Page said. “We needed a couple of big plays to close that gap, and we just couldn't get over the hump. We needed one big stop to get there and get the crowd in it."
It never happened and a true run at an upset never materialized but that should not undermine the celebration of Page’s final night.
Ford chose to sub him out of the game with 37 seconds remaining, allotting him the sincere ovation he deserved from the Cowboy crowd. And OSU fans weren’t the only ones cheering. KU coach Bill Self stood and applauded and Taylor ran over to shake Page’s hand as he exited the game.
"When everybody gave him a standing ovation, I clapped it up for him because he deserves it,” Taylor said. “I’ve been playing against him for four years and he's been a tough guard all four years. It was well deserved on his senior night. He came out here and played well. I'm happy for him.
“He’s a tough cover. He’s a bad boy, man.”
In fact, maybe the only person who didn’t seem to be wrapped up in the emotions of the night was the man of the hour himself. Page took his business-as-usual approach into a game everyone around him wanted to make a special one for him.
But after the game, he tried to put his four years and what they’ve meant into words.
"It's been a fun four years. It's been a fast four years, but it's the best four years of my life,” Page said. “I know there's still basketball to play. We have a big game in Manhattan and the Big 12 tournament where I know anything can happen. I'm still excited about the games we have ahead of us."
And that coach’s demeanor and leadership are among the reasons it makes it so hard for his coach to say goodbye.
“I was not looking forward to this,” Ford said. “He's meant a lot to this program. A whole lot."