Keyontae Johnson alley-oop powers Kansas State past No. 2 Kansas, Jalen Wilson in OT thriller

Kansas State forward Keyontae Johnson (L) attempts to tackle Kansas State forward Jalen Wilson (10) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game on Tuesday, January 17, 2023, in Manhattan, Kansas. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)  )
Keyonte Johnson (left) and Jalen Wilson put on a show on Tuesday. (AP/Charlie Riedel)

Keyonte Johnson of Kansas went head-to-head with Jalen Wilson on Tuesday. He then sealed the deal with a decisive alley in the closing seconds of the game to secure an 83-82 thriller in overtime over Kansas No. 2.

The 13th-seeded Wildcats survived Wilson’s career night and sent the defending champion Jayhawks to their second loss of the season. Both teams leave the game 16-2 and 5-1 in the Big 12 game.

Kansas State controlled the game early on their way to a 44–39 first half lead and then drove the second half 9–2 to regain control, 66–61. The opponents then exchanged blows before a pair of Wilson’s free throws tied the score and went 72–72, eventually leading to overtime. But Johnson had the last word.

The game remained tense in the extra session before Markkees Nowell, who dunked Johnson off the alley with 24 seconds left, lifted Kansas State and sent the Bramlidge Coliseum into a frenzy.

The Wildcats pulled off a half-court game-winner with 30.3 seconds to go. The Jayhawks had no response on the other end after a timeout with 11.7 seconds remaining. Kansas State forced Dajuan Harris, Jr. to relinquish possession of the ball, prompting the student section of Kansas State to flood the hall.

Johnson had 24 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals. Senior quarterback Desi Sills added 24 points, 4 rebounds and 3 steals off the Kansas State bench. The Wildcats overcame the career efforts of Kansas All-Big 12 forward Wilson, who scored a career-high 38 points and grabbed 9 rebounds in the loss, landing several big shots as the game progressed.

Johnson thrives after life-threatening health condition

The play was Johnson’s last big effort. who moved this season from Florida after almost two full seasons without basketball. Johnson collapsed during Florida’s 2020 game against Florida State. He received emergency treatment on the floor and was carried off the court on a stretcher. He was hospitalized with a diagnosed heart condition and placed in a medically induced coma. He recovered but did not expect to play basketball again before announcing last May that he was planning to switch. Now the former SEC Preseason Player of the Year is resurrecting his career after a life-threatening ordeal.

“It was amazing, it’s just a blessing from God,” Johnson told ESPN after the game, surrounded by Wildcats fans. “He gave me the opportunity to have a second chance at life. I will use it every time I go out on the court.”

Johnson started Tuesday averaging 18.4 points and 7.1 rebounds per game. He had 28 points and 9 rebounds in a January 3 win over No. 6 Texas. He had 24 points and 9 rebounds in a win over No. 19 Baylor four days later. His Wildcats are now tied for first place in the Big 12 standings with the Kansas. In the process, they declared themselves legitimate contenders for the Final Four.