OMAHA - Bill Self leaped to his feet on the Kansas sideline, the typically restrained coach finally unloading with a moment of sheer exuberance.
After trailing almost the entire way against Purdue, his Jayhawks are moving on.
Elijah Johnson scored 18 points, including the go-ahead basket in the final minute, and No. 2 seed Kansas rallied to beat Robbie Hummel and the No. 10 seed Boilermakers, 63-60, Sunday night.
Thomas Robinson fought through double-teams all night for 11 points and 13 rebounds and the Jayhawks (29-6) got enough production from everyone else to erase a 10-point second-half deficit and reach the Midwest Regional semifinals in St. Louis.
Kansas will face No. 11 seed North Carolina State.
“What a great game. It wasn’t the best played, but it was a grind-it-out, typical Big Ten game,’’ Self said. “Hummel was unbelievable and we just hung in there.’’
Purdue was clinging to a 60-59 lead and had the ball with less than a minute remaining when Lewis Jackson, the shot clock winding down, lost control at the top of the key. Johnson picked it up and went the other way for the go-ahead layup with 23.3 seconds left.
Hummel missed an open 3-pointer at the other end and Tyshawn Taylor scored a transition dunk for the Jayhawks with 2.5 seconds left, giving the roughly 15,000 fans who had made the three-hour drive from the Kansas campus reason to let out a roar for one of the first times all night.
After a timeout, Purdue sharpshooter Ryne Smith managed to get off a decent look at a long, potential tying 3-pointer. It hit off the backboard, clanked off the rim, and finally fell away.
“It stinks,’’ Purdue coach Matt Painter said. “It stinks to lose.’’
Hummel finished with 26 points and nine rebounds for the Boilermakers (22-13), who were trying to reach the Round of 16 for the third time in four years. D.J. Byrd and Terone Johnson finished with 10 points each for Purdue.
The Jayhawks’ biggest lead all night was their final one. They overcame a rough night by Robinson by getting 10 points from Taylor and 10 more from Travis Releford.
Purdue couldn’t have gotten off to a much better start.
Neither could Hummel.
The senior forward hit his first four shots, three of them from beyond the arc, and followed up his first miss with another basket with 11:46 to go in the first half that made it 19-8.
He proved too quick for Robinson to guard and too strong for Kevin Young as the Jayhawks kept searching for anybody who could put a body on him - they even tried seldom-used Justin Wesley.
The miserable start by Kansas was enough for Self to scream at his team during one defensive trip down floor, “You told me you were ready!’’
It hardly seemed to be the case.
Kansas opened the game by missing 15 of its first 17 shots and all seven of its 3-point tries, compounding lousy offense by getting into foul trouble. Taylor, Young, and Releford all sat stretches in the first half after picking up two early fouls.
The Jayhawks finally trimmed the lead to 31-30 with less than three minutes left in the first half, but Jackson got inside for a basket, and Hummel managed to swish a closely guarded three from about 30 feet as the shot clock wound down to make it 36-30 at the break.
Hummel had 22 points on 7-of-8 shooting in the first half, while the Jayhawks’ trio of stars - Robinson, Taylor, and Johnson - managed 12 points on a combined 4 for 18.
“I wanted to come out and be aggressive, especially the first half. It seemed like everything I was taking was going in,’’ Hummel said. “It was a crazy feeling you have as a player.’’
Purdue extended the lead to 42-32 early in the second half, even after Kansas employed a zone defense to slow Hummel. Johnson led the charge on offense, and the Boilermakers kept locking down Robinson in the post, frustrating the player of the year candidate to no end.
Kansas never went on its patented run, instead slowly clawing back into the game.
The Jayhawks trimmed the lead to 47-44 midway through the second half, but came up empty with four open shots on offense. They got within 52-49 minutes later, only for Taylor to turn the ball over. And it was 52-51 with 5 1/2 minutes left when Hummel drove for a layup high off the glass.
Kansas never led until Johnson hit a deep 3-pointer with just over three minutes left to make it 57-56. Terone Johnson answered with back-to-back baskets for Purdue to regain a 60-57 lead, but Taylor’s alley-oop jam off a feed from Elijah Johnson made it a 1-point game.
And set up a dramatic final flurry.
“We just kept grinding and grinding,’’ Taylor said, “and we ended up making some big plays down the stretch.’’