Throughout the course of the season, Kansas senior guard Elijah Johnson has gone through adversity. Hoping to lead the Jayhawks back to the Final Four, Johnson has put pressure on himself to lead his team. At times, he has struggled, drawing unwarranted criticism from many who praised him just one year ago.
Monday night in Ames, IA, Johnson sent a message to the critics and in the process ripped the heart out of every Iowa State fan, as Kansas rallied for a second time this season to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, as the Jayhawks took down the Cyclones, once again in overtime 108-96.
With the win, Kansas has put themselves in prime position to win a ninth consecutive Big 12 championship, with three games remaining and two of them at home against lower tier leagues foes.
It also earned head coach Bill Self his 500th win of his career, making him the youngest coach to accomplish the lofty feat.
The story on this night at Hilton Coliseum, though was Johnson, who scored lit up the night with a career high 39 points on 13-22 shooting, including 6-10 from beyond the three point arc.
The scoring output marked the most ever scored by a Jayhawk in a Big 12 game, surpassing Paul Pierce’s 37 points in 1997.
It also countered an amazing 17-41 shooting performance by Iowa State from three which had them poised once again to knocked off the Jayhawks, leading by as much as seven with under two minutes to play.
But, along came Johnson, who scored in every way imaginable. Though, it was two free throws following a highly controversial late call with under five second to play that tied the game at 90-90 and sent it to overtime, where he continued his hot shooting, in which each shot that fell was a dagger that pierced an arrow deep into the Cyclones’ spirit, culminating with a slam as time ran out.
“I blacked out,” Johnson said of his shooting zone.
Kansas also got 19 points from Travis Releford, which were timely each time Iowa State tried to pull away. Fellow seniors Jeff Withey and Kevin Young each added 13 points and 10 and nine rebounds respectively for a Jayhawks team that will look to inch that much closer to the league title when they host West Virginia, Saturday afternoon at 1:00.