- Cullman, Alabama

College Sports

December 18, 2010

ALABAMA BASKETBALL: Page leads Oklahoma State past Tide

OKLAHOMA CITY — Ray Penn was getting exhausted and asking to come out of the game, but Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford had to turn him down.

Against Alabama’s pressing defense, he needed both of his backcourt leaders on the floor.

Keiton Page scored 20 points and Penn added 12 as the Cowboys beat Alabama 68-60 Saturday night in the All-College Classic.

Instead of letting Penn come out of the game, Ford called him and Page together and told them to stop being so hesitant against the Tide’s traps.

“What was happening is they were getting rid of the ball, but the guys they threw it to, it was putting them in a bad spot ... and then they were having a tough time,” Ford said.

“So, I just told them, ‘You’re going to have to handle the basketball. You’re going to have to make a play.’”

After Alabama had closed a 14-point deficit to three, Page and Penn each hit 3-pointers to push Oklahoma State’s lead back to 52-44. Penn, Page and Marshall Moses then hit 14 free throws over the final 6:09 to put the game away.

The Cowboys (10-1) didn’t have a basket during that final stretch, but didn’t need one against the foul-prone Crimson Tide.

“They made plays. They hit big threes when they needed to, they got to the free-throw line quite often there in the second half, so give them credit,” Alabama coach Anthony Grant said. “They did what they needed to do.”

Jamychal Green had bookend baskets on a 10-0 run that got Alabama within three points midway through the second half, but that’s as close as the Crimson Tide (5-6) got.

Green scored 16 points to lead Alabama before becoming one of three Tide players to foul out. Tony Mitchell scored 13 and Trevor Releford had 12 points before he also fouled out.

The Crimson Tide shot 56.5 percent from the floor in the second half but still fell to 0-6 in games played anywhere but their home gym this season, largely because they couldn’t stop fouling once the game got close.

Alabama was called for 26 fouls for the second time in three games, one off of its season-high.

“Some of our defensive habits led to some of the refs calling some fouls,” Mitchell said. “We’ve just got to be more disciplined, that’s all, on the defensive end.”

The teams combined to shoot 9 for 40 during a grinding first 15 minutes of the game, including an 8-minute stretch when each team had only one basket.

Oklahoma State finally made a breakthrough in the final 2 minutes before halftime, getting a little help from Alabama’s Senario Hillman.

Hillman was called for an intentional foul for slugging Markel Brown in the side after Moses had made the second of two free throws with 1:50 left in the first half. That sent Brown to the line to make two more foul shots, and Moses converted a layup as Oklahoma State scored six straight points without the Tide getting a chance on offense.

Jean-Paul Olukemi added a 3-pointer from the left side with the shot clock running down, and Penn hit a driving layup at the halftime buzzer as the Cowboys finished the half with 11 straight points to stretch a three-point lead to 30-16.

It ended up being enough of a cushion for Oklahoma State to protect, but Ford was concerned at the time.

“He was afraid that going into the second half that we would let up a little bit, and we did,” Moses said. “Those are the things that we’re talking about, the difference between good teams and great teams. Good teams don’t do that. Great teams, when they get at 14-point lead, they expand on it.

Oklahoma State starting forward Matt Pilgrim left the game with 58.6 seconds left after injuring his right knee in a collision with Alabama’s Chris Hines.

“He says he’s OK. It was a little bit scary,” Ford said. “You’ll know more tomorrow. When you wake up, you’ll know just how sore it is. I don’t know what he did. He said he hyperextended it.”

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