Saturday, March 31, 2012 | 10:04 p.m.
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A big play from a Las Vegas area product helped the Kansas basketball team Saturday overcome a double-digit deficit against Ohio State in the national semifinals in New Orleans.
Elijah Johnson, a junior guard for Kansas and a graduate of Cheyenne High School in North Las Vegas, finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds in leading the Jayhawks to a 64-62 victory and a spot in Monday’s national title game against Kentucky.
Kansas, which trailed by nine points at halftime, opened the second half on a 13-4 scoring run to even the game at 38-all. Johnson capped the rally with a 3-pointer.
The game went back and forth until Kansas pulled ahead in the final two minutes, taking a lead for the first time since early in the game. Johnson was nearly the goat when he committed a terrible turnover, which led to an easy basket for Ohio State’s Aaron Kraft.
Seconds later, Johnson had one of the great plays of the game when he came up with a steal and drove the length of the floor for a layup to give Kansas a 62-59 lead with 1:10 remaining.
Johnson, a reserve in his first two seasons with Kansas, has emerged as one of the Jayhawks’ best players. Against Purdue in the NCAA Tournament third round, Johnson’s layup in the final seconds gave Kansas a win in a game they trailed from virtually start to finish.
Earlier in the week, Johnson talked to the Sun’s Taylor Bern about his journey to the Final Four. It’s a voyage that will include the biggest game of his career, Monday against Kentucky.