February 25, 2013
Elijah Johnson was smiling. What else could he do? He had just pulled down a rebound, and kicked out a pass to Naadir Tharpe. But wait, the shot clock said just three seconds. And on a crazy, wild, insane night at Hilton Coliseum, Johnson went calling for the ball, hoisting a fade-away three-pointer from close to 25 feet from the basket.the second half against Iowa State on Monday in Ames, Iowa. Self reached his 500th career victory as Kansas won 108-96 in overtime.
No, this shot wasn’t going in. This was a prayer, another miracle against Iowa State, and all season long, Johnson had been the guy who had been immune to such luck.
But here was the shot, spinning through the air, swishing through the bucket in the final minute of overtime. The Jayhawks now led by seven, a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. Somehow, the Jayhawks survived.
Kansas 108, Iowa State 96.
Johnson, a senior, finished with 39 points, the most ever by a Kansas player in a Big 12 game. And Kansas coach Bill Self earned his 500th victory in the most thrilling and Self-ian way possible. Against all odds, on the opponent’s court, with boos and debris raining down as Johnson got a police escort back to the locker room.
The Jayhawks dream of nine straight Big 12 titles is alive and well. With three games remaining, Kansas improved to 24-4 overall and 12-3 in the Big 12, keeping pace with Kansas State on top of the conference standings. Miraculous? Maybe.
How else do you explain Johnson’s performance, a tour de force after a year of frustration. He finished with six three-pointers, 13 of 22 shooting from the floor. When the Jayhawks needed him most, Johnson was there.
If you blinked, you might have missed Kansas’ furious comeback in the final seconds of regulation.
The Cyclones kept knocking down threes, and the Jayhawks kept clawing back. Twice, it looked like Kansas might be dead. And twice, Johnson drilled three-pointers, the second cutting the lead to 89-88 with the clock inside 15 seconds.
With 11.6 seconds left, Iowa State’s Korie Lucious made one of two free throws on the other end. And after a missed layup and a mad scramble for the ball, Johnson was fouled by Iowa State’s Georges Niang while clawing for the ball. With the clock at 4.9, Johnson calmly knocked down two free throws, and Lucious missed a last-second three-pointer on the other end.
One way or another, Kansas still had a chance with one minute left. The Jayhawks were down two. They needed a stop. One. More. Stop. But the Cyclones had lived all day for this moment. When Niang stepped up and drilled Iowa State’s 17th three of the game, a school record, the Cyclones led 87-82 with the clock inside 40 seconds.
It was the dagger that wouldn’t be.
The Jayhawks had trimmed the lead to 82-80 with more than two minutes left, enduring the Cyclones’ game-long three-point assault. But the Jayhawks came up empty on two straight possessions — the first on a turnover by Johnson — and the Cyclones took an 84-80 lead before Travis Releford cut the lead to 84-82 with 1:17 left.
By midway through the second half, the Cyclones kept running, and shooting, and chucking … and the pace was almost dizzying. With 6:53 left, Iowa State had launched 28 three-pointers and canned 14 of them.
The yellow-and-gold wave kept coming, and it came in the form of ridiculous outside shooting.
The previous record for three-pointers made against Kansas was 18 by Nebraska in 2002 in Lincoln. The Jayhawks won that game in the final minutes, escaping an opponent’s home-court in the final minutes.
But this felt different, like Kansas was hanging on against a fighter that kept landing clean head shots. When Lucious drilled a three-pointer late in the second half, pushing the Cyclones lead to 79-72, Iowa State had knocked down 15 three-pointers. When Tyrus McGree drilled another long-range bomb with under four minutes left, the Cyclones led 82-76.
The three-point barrage started early.
The Jayhawks had to survive a slow start in front of a raucous and hostile crowd at Hilton Coliseum. The Cyclones hit three three-pointers in the opening four minutes, taking a 14-7 lead with 16:27 left.
The opening stretch also included a technical foul from KU coach Bill Self with 17:54 left in the half. After an early foul on Elijah Johnson, Self stormed onto the floor and picked up his first technical of the season.
When the deficit hit seven points, Self burned a full timeout, and the Jayhawks responded with a 7-0 run that tied the game at 14-14.
The Jayhawks had arrived at Hilton Coliseum still tied for first place with Kansas State in the Big 12 standings. But when the ball tipped off just past 8 p.m., the Wildcats had already taken care of Texas Tech and moved to 23-5 and 12-4 in the Big 12, a half-game ahead of Kansas.
KU had arrived here to make history. Self was still just 40 minutes from his 500th career victory. And the Jayhawks were four wins away from ensuring a ninth straight Big 12 title.
But this was Hilton Coliseum, the birthplace of “Hilton Magic,” and the Cyclones carried a 22-game home-court winning streak into Monday night’s matchup. This is the kind of place where, in the opening minutes of the second half, Lucious could throw up an alley-oop pass toward the rim, and the ball went through the hoop for the Cyclones’ ninth three-pointer.
Kansas freshman Ben McLemore again struggled to get going in the first half. For most of the half, the Cyclones devoted a defender to tail McLemore wherever he went. The ploy contained McLemore. But the Jayhawks were able to isolate Withey in the post when they wanted to.
The Jayhawks also received an early lift from Naadir Tharpe, who made up for McLemore’s production with eight points and two big three-pointers. Tharpe’s second three-pointer gave Kansas a 37-36 lead, its first since holding a 21-19 advantage with 11:36 left.
Elijah Johnson was born on July 11th, 1990 according to http://nbadraft.net/players/elijah-johnson
July 11th, 1990
7 + 11 +1+9+9+0 = 37 = his life lesson = Playing his heart out. Pouring his heart into it. Heart-centered leader. Deeply emotional.
July 11th, 1990
7 + 11 +2+0+1+2 = 23 = his personal year (from July 11th, 2012 to July 10th, 2013) = Athlete. Sports. Leadership.
23 year + 3 (March) = 26 = his personal month (from March 11th, 2013 to April 10th, 2013) = Fans. Popular. In the news. Making headlines.
using the number/letter grid:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
A B C D E F G H I
J K L M N O P Q R
S T U V W X Y Z
A = 1 J = 1 S = 1
B = 2 K = 2 T = 2
C = 3 L = 3 U = 3
D = 4 M = 4 V = 4
E = 5 N = 5 W = 5
F = 6 O = 6 X = 6
G = 7 P = 7 Y = 7
H = 8 Q = 8 Z = 8
I = 9 R = 9
his path of destiny = 59 = A real savior.
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