Kansas' forgotten box score series: Elijah Johnson's 39-point explosion against Iowa State

Kansas Jayhawks coach Bill Self has recorded nearly 800 wins in his coaching career, but his 500th career win was extra special, in big thanks to Elijah Johnson who unexpectedly had the game of his life
NCAA Basketball Tournament - Kansas v North Carolina
NCAA Basketball Tournament - Kansas v North Carolina / Andy Lyons/GettyImages
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Elijah Erupted for 39-points with 20 of them coming in crunch time

Entering the game on February 26th, 2013, Johnson was not the first, second, or even third scoring option for the Jayhawks that season. Ben McLemore (15.9 PPG), Jeff Withey (13.7 PPG), and Travis Releford (11.9 PPG) were all more consistent scorers, but Johnson was clearly a man on a mission that night.

The 6’4” guard was great all game, scoring 19 points through the first 39:31 of the game. More times than not, those 19 points would have been more than enough to secure the win, but not that night. Johnson needed to do more, and so he did. He ended regulation by draining two 3-pointers in the final 29 seconds and netted two free-throws with 4.9 seconds left to help force overtime. Then he took another step up in extra time and drained shot after shot, ending overtime with 12 points by himself. The Jayhawks topped the Cyclones 108-96 and KU ended Iowa State’s 22-game home win streak.

Following the game, Coach Bill Self had nothing but nice things to say about Johnson’s performance stating, “He was unbelievable… He was the best player in the country tonight”. The senior guard finished the season strong, but it is notable that after his 39-point explosion, he never topped more than 14-points, making his out-of-body experience against Iowa State even more of an outlier. Regardless, it should be a game that lasts in the memories of KU fans for decades and decades, if not longer.