Doug Gottlieb sat in solitary confinement. The game went on without him. He could not play. He could not watch. He was a bad boy, and the referees told him to sit in the corner for the second half.
"I wasn't allowed to leave the locker room," Gottlieb said. "I couldn't even go out and sit with my family and cheer my teammates on. It was the worst feeling in the world."
As homecomings go, the Oklahoma State junior guard felt more like a court jester than a king. With friends and family flocking to the Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim to root for their local hero, Gottlieb let everyone down, including himself.
Gottlieb, who starred minutes away at Tustin High, received his second technical foul just before halftime, and with it an automatic ejection and banishment to the locker room for the second half of the Cowboys' 69-66 loss to UCLA on Saturday.
"I came in here [at halftime] and coach was on me," Gottlieb said. "When he's on you, the only thing you can do is come out and play a good second half, and I couldn't help my team."
In his previous game, Gottlieb set a school record with 18 assists. Against the Bruins, Gottlieb had five assists in 17 minutes. The Cowboys, however, finished with 25 turnovers, a number Oklahoma State Coach Eddie Sutton said was the highest since he arrived in Stillwater eight years ago.
Said UCLA Coach Steve Lavin: "That's like forcing Vince Lombardi's football team into 12 turnovers."
Gottlieb received his first technical foul five minutes into the game, for overly contesting a call. The second technical coincided with the buzzer at the end of the first half.
In the final seconds of the half, UCLA guard Baron Davis split the Oklahoma State defense, dodging defenders down the length of the court and punctuating the drive with a layup. As Davis turned to run upcourt, he smiled and clapped wildly. Gottlieb jabbed him with an elbow, Davis fell hard and fast to the floor, and that was the afternoon for Gottlieb.
"I elbowed him and kind of bumped him, and he just flopped over," Gottlieb said. "It wasn't as blatant as he made it look like."
Said Davis, grinning widely: "I flopped a little bit."
So what prompted the exchange? Depends whom you believe. Gottlieb said Davis never shut up. Davis said he never said a word.
"I don't remember even talking to him," Davis said. "There wasn't any trash-talking. I don't know what he's talking about. . . .
"He was frustrated the whole game. He lost his cool. He lost his poise and took a shot at me."
The Bruins ought to credit Davis with an assist on the play, intentional or otherwise. With some acting and a debatable amount of provocation, Davis took out the player he called "the one who makes them go."
Said Davis: "He's their only point guard, really."
Gottlieb wasn't about to congratulate Davis on his savvy, but he did acknowledge he should have known better.
"It's my own fault," Gottlieb said. "He wanted to talk trash the whole game. You can't let yourself get involved in that. You can't let his mind games get to you. You have to let the scoreboard do the talking for you.
"I don't blame him, but I don't tip my hat to him, either. . . . He's such a fine athlete, he should just go out and play."
During his 30 minutes in solitary confinement, Gottlieb made a wish.
"I can just hope we play UCLA in the NCAA tournament. They're a good team. They're a talented team. In many ways, we're a better team. We have the age. We have the experience. We have the maturity.
"Of course, the way I acted was immature."