PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas (AP) — First-year guard Gradey Dick scored a season-high 25 points to help No. 3 Kansas beat North Carolina State 80-74 in Wednesday’s Battle 4 Atlantis opener, giving coach Bill Self a successful return to the bench.
Dick had 18 points on six 3-pointers in the first half. Jalen Wilson added 19 points and 11 rebounds for the reigning national champion Jayhawks (5-0), who held an eight-point halftime lead and a nine-point second-half lead before grinding it out in the final minutes.
Casey Morsell scored 21 points to lead the Wolfpack (4-1), while Terquavion Smith added 19 points.
N.C. State played a fast pace, picked up full court and stayed within arm’s reach of Kansas the entire way. The Wolfpack tied it five times in the second half, the last coming at 63-all on Jack Clark’s jumper with 7:14 left.
Dick went 6 for 9 from behind the arc in the opening 20 minutes, the last seeing him knock down one through light contact from Morsell and fall to the floor just before the halftime horn.
Dick got up with an emphatic shout and clapping, while Morsell could only respond with a frustrated shrug as Kansas took a 39-31 lead into the break.
N.C. State: This was N.C. State’s first appearance at Atlantis since 2017 at the start of Kevin Keatts’ coaching tenure. That Wolfpack team opened that tournament with a stunning upset of No. 2 Arizona and this year’s bunch flirted with another while giving Kansas fits all the way to the final minutes.
Kansas: The 6-foot-8 Dick is off to a strong start. He came in averaging 16.8 points while shooting 10 of 20 from 3-point range, then surpassed his (short) season high of 23 points from the opener against Omaha.
N.C. State: The Wolfpack will face the Wisconsin-Dayton loser in Thursday’s consolation bracket.
Kansas: The Jayhawks advanced to Thursday’s semifinals to face the Wisconsin-Dayton winner.