MANHATTAN, Kan. -- Keyontae Johnson gathered with a few of his old Florida teammates after leading No. 5 Kansas State to a 64-50 win over the Gators on Saturday night, the group smiling for some cameras for a picture he'll no doubt cherish.
Because of not only what Johnson had been through but how the Wildcats had performed.
Johnson had 13 points and 11 rebounds in a sentimental matchup with the Gators, while Markquis Nowell flirted with the first triple-double in Kanas State history, helping the Wildcats to a dominant 64-50 victory in the Big 12-SEC Challenge.
Johnson struggled mightily from the field, going just 5-of-16 and even getting stuffed at the front of the rim during a windmill dunk on a second-half fast break. But it was nevertheless a special night for the senior forward, who collapsed on the Gators' sideline during a game against Florida State just over two years ago.
Johnson spent 10 days in the hospital and never played another meaningful minute for Florida, whose medical staff would not clear him. He wound up at Kansas State, where doctors gave his heart the green light, and he has emerged as the Big 12′s third-leading scorer and rebounder while helping the Wildcats to their highest ranking in more than a decade.
"It's a once-in-a-lifetime memory. You'll never get that moment back," he said. "Just trying to embrace that moment."
Wildcats coach Jerome Tang spoke to Johnson throughout the week about what was undoubtedly an emotional night.
"It was really cool. As a fan, I wanted to see him have a good game. I wanted him to get the win. I think the team wanted him to get the win," Tang said. "We knew it was important to him, even though he didn't make a big deal of it."