Kansas point guard Elijah Johnson connected with a shot early in the first half of Friday's Sweet 16 matchup with Michigan.
Unfortunately for the Jayhawks, it wasn't what they had in mind.
Johnson hit 6-foot-10 freshman Mitch McGary with a cheap shot below the belt as Michigan inbounded the ball less than two minutes into the Wolverines' 87-85 overtime victory. Referees reviewed the play and assessed a flagrant 1 foul to Johnson, a somewhat lenient ruling considering replays appeared to suggest the low blow was intentional.
The flagrant foul was the start of a nightmarish night for Johnson.
It began with first-half foul trouble when the Kansas point guard had to sit after committing his second foul on a charge with 16:43 left before halftime. Coach Bill Self showed confidence in the senior by reinserting him into the game midway through the first half, but Johnson picked up a third personal foul mere seconds later.
"He made three bonehead plays," Self told TBS sideline reporter Craig Sager at halftime, not knowing that it was only going to get worse from there.
Johnson actually scored 13 points, but some of his five turnovers played a huge role in allowing Michigan to rally from 10 down in the final two and a half minutes.
A Glenn Robinson III steal and dunk via turnover by Johnson began the Michigan comeback. A 10-second violation caused by Johnson's nonchalance bringing the ball up the court helped the Wolverines further tighten the gap. And a missed front end of a one-and-one by Johnson with 13 seconds left in regulation kept Michigan within three and enabled Trey Burke to force overtime with a dramatic game-tying 3-pointer.
Johnson still had one final chance to salvage a disappointing night on the final play of overtime but again things ended in frustration.
With Kansas trailing by two and just a few ticks left on the clock, Johnson took a circular route to the rim that prevented him from having a clear look at a game-tying layup. Instead Johnson opted to kick out to Naadir Tharpe for an off-balance 3-pointer that went begging, ensuring Kansas' season would end in heartbreak.
"I thought he could get to the rim," Self told reporters after the game. "We set a fake ball screen hoping they would think switch for a count and not switch. He was able to get his shoulders past him. But for whatever reason, he veered behind the backboard and really didn't give himself a shot."
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