Elijah Johnson #15 of the Kansas Jayhawks drives for a...

Elijah Johnson #15 of the Kansas Jayhawks drives for a shot attempt in the second half against Ryne Smith #24 and Robbie Hummel #4 of the Purdue Boilermakers during the third round of the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Nebraska. (March 18, 2012) Credit: Getty Images

The fact that his college career had finally come to a conclusion had yet to hit Robbie Hummel when he sat down next to Purdue coach Matt Painter on Sunday night.

The star-crossed senior forward had just scored 26 points and pulled down nine rebounds against Kansas, almost willing his season to keep going just a little bit longer. But the Jayhawks made the key plays down the stretch, ending Hummel's career with a 63-60 defeat.

"I'm basically in shock from the game," Hummel said. "I can't believe it's over."

Hummel has become the poster boy for the gritty style of the Boilermakers over the past five years. Twice he's come back from devastating knee injuries — twice tearing the ACL in his right knee — only for his final game to be a loss at the hands of Kansas.

His inspired performance still left an impression on the Jayhawks' coach.

"I've been a fan from afar for a while, and with everything he's gone through, he deserved — and I thought before the game — he deserved to play great," Bill Self said. "He was fabulous."

He was so good that Self figured Kansas was in for a long night.

Hummel hit first four shots, three of them from beyond the arc, and followed up his first miss with another basket. He proved too quick for Kansas forward Thomas Robinson and too strong for Kevin Young, and eventually Self had to employ different zones to slow him down.

Hummel had 22 points on 7-of-8 shooting in the first half.

"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."

Hummel finally cooled after the break, though.

That's when Kansas made its move.

The Jayhawks closed within 60-59 with under a minute left when Purdue guard Lewis Jackson lost control of the ball as the shot clock wound down. It wound up in the hands of Elijah Johnson, and the Kansas guard went the other way for the go-ahead lay-in 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," Painter said afterward. "It stinks to lose."

Especially for Hummel, whose knee injuries kept him out of the past two NCAA tournaments.

"He's one of the best I've been around," Painter said. "He's a great person, he works very hard, he's made a huge impact on our program, just by doing the right thing.

"He has a lot of the qualities you'd want in one of your own kids," Painter said, "and there's nothing fake about it. He just wants Purdue to win."

Johnson had 18 points and Robinson fought through double-teams all night for 11 points and 13 rebounds, as the Jayhawks (29-6) got enough production up and down the lineup to reach the Midwest Regional semifinals in St. Louis. They'll 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."

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 Travis Releford all sat stretches in the first half after picking up two early fouls.

The Jayhawks finally trimmed the lead to 31-30 with under 3 minutes left in the first half, but Lewis Jackson got inside for a basket, and Hummel managed to swish a closely guarded 3 from about 30 feet as the shot clock wound down to make it 36-30 at the break.

Purdue extended the lead to 42-32 early in the second half, even after Kansas employed a zone defense to slow down 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 5½ 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 3 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 one-point game.

And set up a dramatic final flurry between Kansas and Purdue.

"We just kept grinding and grinding," Taylor said, "and we ended up making some big plays down the stretch."