Gradey Dick scored 25 points as No. 3 Kansas marked the return of Bill Self with an 80-74 victory against North Carolina State on Wednesday afternoon in the opening round of the Battle 4 Atlantis in Paradise Island, Bahamas.
The Jayhawks had trouble shaking free from the Wolfpack. The margin was as close as three points with less than 3 1/2 minutes play.
Kansas (5-0) will take on the winner of the second game between Dayton and Wisconsin in Thursday’s semifinal. North Carolina State (4-1) meets the loser of that game in the consolation bracket.
Self was assessed a four-game suspension from the university stemming from an NCAA investigation in 2017. Assistant coach Kurtis Townsend also received a four-game ban and returned to the bench on Wednesday.
Self’s most-recent coaching stint in a game that counted came in last April’s NCAA championship victory over North Carolina. Norm Roberts had served as acting head coach in Self’s absence this month.
Jalen Wilson collected 19 points and 11 rebounds, Dajuan Harris had 14 points and Kevin McCullar added 10 for Kansas.
Casey Morsell scored 21 points, Terquavion Smith had 19 and Jarkel Joiner contributed 17 for the Wolfpack, who had yet to leave home in four victories to begin their season.
North Carolina State hung around by making 18 of 22 free throws.
Morsell scored the first eight points of the second half in less than two minutes as the Wolfpack tied the score at 39-39.
The Jayhawks recovered to go up by nine, but that didn’t last long as it was even at 61-61 with less than eight minutes to play.
Dick had 18 first-half points, sinking six of nine attempts from 3-point range. The Jayhawks scored the last six points of the half, capped by a 3-pointer from Dick.
Kansas shot 64.3 percent from 3-point range and 43.8 percent overall in the opening half.
–Field Level Media