Kansas State's Keyontae Johnson went toe-to-toe with Jalen Wilson on Tuesday. Then he sealed the deal with an emphatic alley-oop in the game's final seconds to secure an 83-82 overtime thriller over No. 2 Kansas.
The 13th-ranked Wildcats survived a career night from Wilson to send the defending champion Jayhawks to just their second loss of the season. Both teams left the game at 16-2 and 5-1 in Big 12 play.
Kansas State controlled the game early en route to a 44-39 first-half lead, then rode a 9-2 second-half run to retake control 66-61. The rivals then traded blows down the stretch before a pair of free throws from Wilson tied the game 72-72, ultimately forcing overtime.
But Johnson had the last word. The game remained tight in the extra session before a Johnson alley-oop dunk from Markquis Nowell with 24 seconds remaining put Kansas State up for good and sent Bramlage Coliseum into a frenzy.
The Wildcats executed the game-winning play in a halfcourt set after inbounding the ball with 30.3 seconds left off a timeout. The Jayhawks didn't have an answer on the other end after calling timeout with 11.7 seconds remaining. Kansas State forced a Dajuan Harris Jr. turnover on the ensuing possession, prompting the Kansas State student section to flood the floor.
Johnson tallied 24 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals in the win. Senior guard Desi Sills added 24 points, 4 rebounds and 3 steals off the Kansas State bench. The Wildcats overcame a career effort from All-Big 12 Kansas forward Wilson, who tallied a career-high 38 points alongside nine rebounds in the loss, hitting multiple big shots down the stretch.
Johnson thriving after life-threatening medical condition
The performance was the latest big effort for Johnson, who transferred this season from Florida after nearly two full seasons away from basketball. Johnson collapsed during a 2020 Florida game vs. Florida State. He was given emergency treatment on the floor and taken off the court on a stretcher. He was hospitalized with a reported heart condition and placed in a medically induced coma. He recovered but wasn't expected to play basketball again prior to announcing last May that he was planning to transfer.
Now the former SEC preseason player of the year is having a career resurgence following a life-threatening ordeal.
"It's been amazing, it's just a blessing from God," Johnson told ESPN after the game while surrounded by Wildcats fans. "He gave me the opportunity to have a second chance at life. I'm gonna take advantage of it every time I get out here on the court."
Johnson entered Tuesday averaging 18.4 points and 7.1 rebounds per game. He tallied 28 points and nine rebounds in a win over No. 6 Texas on Jan. 3. He posted 24 points and nine rebounds in a win over No. 19 Baylor four days later.
Now his Wildcats are tied with Kansas atop the Big 12 standings, and they've announced themselves as legitimate Final Four contenders in the process.