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Kentucky's Oscar Tshiebwe, Kansas State's Keyontae Johnson share special bond

The two friends have been close since Johnson's collapse on the basketball court in 2020. They are expected to play against each other for a spot in the Sweet 16.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — It was Dec. 12, 2020, the day Keyontae Johnson collapsed on the court when he was a Florida Gator.

For him it was a traumatic experience.

In the wake of that moment, Johnson received a call from Kentucky’s Oscar Tshiebwe.

“When I was going through my situation at Florida, I collapsed. Last year, he was one of the people that reached out. We [are] just always talking to each other. And we always praying – just trying to congratulate each other. [He’s] like a brother to me, so I know him real well,” Johnson said.

Tshiebwe said, “That’s my brother. I see my brother went down. When he fell, I was playing a lot and reached out to him and said, ‘hey man, I just want you to know I’m praying for you. Let’s continue in prayer. God is going to help you – he’s going to bring you better than you were before.’”

Johnson and Tshiebwe have remained close ever since.

“He grew a lot. Sometimes, he reached out to me a lot. He say, ‘Oscar man, good job! He had a good game – continue and keep playing. Keep playing hard,’” Tshiebwe recalled.

Johnson said, “He’s a godly person and he just had a prayer for me. I just took that and just been locked down with the guy. I’ll never forget it.”

Now with Johnson at Kansas State, they will meet on Sunday in Greensboro with for a shot in the Sweet 16.

Will the game be awkward?

“It’s not going to be awkward. It’s like playing against Bryce – like you get to play [with] the people who got to compete the most. We know somebody’s gonna go home tomorrow,” Tshiebwe said.

Johnson replied, “We friends off the court, but the court – it’s our business. So we, me and my guys are trying to get to the Sweet 16. We want to go to New York. He is in the way.”

Kentucky and Kansas State are expected to tip around 2:40 p.m.

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