No. 6 Kansas survived a big upset, as they beat Iowa State, 108-96, in overtime Monday night. Iowa State gave their all to be the latest upset in a wild season of college basketball, but fell just short as Kansas forced OT with two free throws in the last 10 seconds of the game. The comeback earned Kansas head coach Bill Self his 500th career victory.
CBSSports.com writer Jon Rothstein tweeted this gem about Self, who become the fourth fastest coach to reach 500 wins:
Death. Taxes. Bill Self.— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) February 26, 2013
It was a heartbreaking loss for Iowa State. Yahoo! Sports' Pat Forde mentioned just how harsh Kansas has been against the Cyclones:
Kansas has taken a piece of Iowa State's soul this year. Forced OT in Lawrence on banked-in 3. Forced OT in Ames on craptastic no-call.— Pat Forde (@YahooForde) February 26, 2013
While it was a fantastic game, it got sloppy down the stretch and the officiating was highly questionable. The refs had some terrible missed calls and then ate their whistles on legitimate fouls. Yahoo! Sports' Jeff Eisenberg:
Horrendous officiating in the last minute is going to overshadow one heck of a game from Elijah Johnson. Or maybe vice-versa.— Jeff Eisenberg (@JeffEisenberg) February 26, 2013
As bad as the officiating might have been, it won't overshadow the performance of senior guard Elijah Johnson. He played the best game of his career for Kansas. He finished with 39 points on 13-of-22 shooting (including 6-of-10 from downtown) and paced the Jayhawks in overtime with 12 points.
The game was extremely tight throughout with neither team leading by more than seven points in regulation. While Iowa State led for most of the first half, Kansas hit a layup with less than 10 seconds left in the half to take a 41-40 advantage into the break.
In the second half, Iowa State continued to play very settled basketball. The two teams battled closely and traded leads until Iowa State got a little bit of space at 79-72, as McGee hit a three-pointer with 5:24 remaining. Kansas battled back with clutch shots and two clutch free throws from Elijah Johnson to force the extra period.
Kansas then took control of the game by taking a 100-92 lead. Sloppy turnovers left the door open for Iowa State, but the Jayhawks were able to knock down enough shots to seal the victory.
The poor performance is worrisome for the Jayhawks who had seemingly turned the page after a three-game losing streak to start the month. While they got the win, they easily could have given the game away. They have the rest of the week off before hosting West Virginia on Saturday. Two days later, they host Texas Tech before closing out the season on March 9 against Baylor.
Iowa State, on the other hand, let a huge victory slip through their fingers that would have helped them in the Big 12 standings, falling to 9-6 in conference play. The Cyclones head to Oklahoma on Saturday, host Oklahoma State on March 6 and finish up at West Virginia on March 9.