Ames, IA – Kansas' run at nine consecutive Big 12 titles was about to take a hit Monday at Hilton Coliseum, but Elijah Johnson made sure the Jayhawks escaped with a critical win.
Johnson scored eight points in the final 30 seconds of regulation -- including a pair of controversial free throws with 4.9 seconds left -- to force overtime, then capped his incredible 39-point effort with 12 in the extra session as No. 6 Kansas pulled out a 108-96 thriller over Iowa State.
"It feels real good," Johnson said of his career-best showing. "I felt like I haven't shot as good as I could shoot, so it felt good seeing it go in."
Travis Releford added 19 points, while Kevin Young and Jeff Withey chipped in 13 points apiece for the Jayhawks (24-4, 12-3 Big 12), whose fifth straight win kept them tied atop the Big 12 standings with Kansas State.
The victory also marked the 500th of Bill Self's career as a head coach.
Iowa State (19-9, 9-6) squandered a school-record 17 3-pointers and saw its 22-game home winning streak fall by the wayside. Tyrus McGee made six from long range in a 22-point performance, while Korie Lucious netted 23 points in defeat.
The Cyclones were primed to celebrate a signature win after Georges Niang's triple gave them an 87-82 lead inside the final minute of regulation.
That's when Johnson became unhinged.
The senior guard, who totaled 34 points over the previous four games combined, hit two from behind the arc around a pair of Lucious free throws. After Lucious went 1-of-2 from the foul line with 11.6 seconds on the clock to make it a 90-88 game, Johnson quickly attacked the rim.
Niang tried taking a charge, but no foul was called despite plenty of contact as Johnson's driving layup fell short. Niang and Johnson were both on the baseline battling for the loose ball when Niang was called for a foul.
"(It was) a tough call," Iowa State head coach Fred Hoiberg said. "It is what it is. It happened and you have to move past it."
Johnson sank both free throws, and Lucious' deep try was off to the right at the buzzer.
After trading baskets to start OT, Johnson hit a go-ahead basket and followed a Releford 3-pointer with one of his own for a 100-92 cushion.
Will Clyburn went 4-of-6 from the foul line to cut the deficit to four, but Johnson struck again in the final minute when he missed everything on a drive to the hoop, got the ball back and made an off-balanced 3-pointer -- his sixth of the game -- from NBA range just before the shot clock expired.
Fittingly, Johnson threw down a dunk as time wound down to clinch Kansas' second overtime win against the Cyclones this season.
"(Johnson) was unbelievable. He was the best player in the country tonight," Self said. "That will go down as one of the better games that any guard has ever played at Kansas."
It was an intense seesaw battle throughout, made evident by Self getting hit with a technical foul just 2:07 after the opening tip.
Iowa State held an early 14-7 lead following a Niang 3-pointer, but Kansas answered right back and the lead changed hands eight times in the first half, with Naadir Tharpe's late layup giving the Jayhawks a 41-40 edge.
It was no more than a two-possession game in the second half until Lucious drilled a 3-pointer for a 79-72 lead with 5:17 remaining.
Kansas scored eight of the next 11 points to get within striking distance.
There were 11 ties and 18 lead changes ... Johnson's previous high this season was 18 points against Chattanooga on Nov. 15 ... Withey grabbed 10 rebounds but was held without a block for the second time this season ... Kansas' leading scorer, freshman Ben McLemore, was limited to seven points ... ISU had won three straight over ranked opponents at home ... ISU was 15-0 at home this season ... The Jayhawks have won 14 of the last 15 matchups against ISU.