🏀 Dick Leads No. 3 Kansas to 80-74 Victory Against NC State
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.
“I think it really just showed what our team’s about and in crunch time, we can come out with tough plays when we really need it,” Dick said.
Casey Morsell scored 21 points to lead the Wolfpack (4-1), while Terquavion Smith added 19 points.
“We missed a couple of free throws down the stretch, I thought they got out in transition,” Kevin Keatts said. “We had a couple of breakdowns that when you’re in that one- or two-possession game, everything is important down the stretch.”
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: The Wolfpack program had also been caught up in the FBI investigation of the sport involving recruiting violations tied to one-and-done freshman Dennis Smith Jr. under former coach Mark Gottfried. That case had hung over the entirety of Keatts’ tenure until there was a December resolution. Now Keatts has restocked his roster with a style closer to his vision: playing fast and picking up fullcourt even against a marquee-name program.
“I don’t know from a raw speed standpoint if there’s anybody that we’ll play against that is as quick as” the backcourt of Smith and Jarkel Joiner, Self said, adding: “We’re athletic, pretty athletic — but we’re not jet quick. So we had to be turned up pretty good to stay in front of them.”
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.
Dick’s sixth 3-pointer for a 39-31 lead came before the halftime horn and through light contact from Morsell, with Dick falling to the floor. He got up with an emphatic shout, clapping, while Morsell could only respond with a frustrated shrug.
But N.C. State answered with an 8-0 burst, with Morsell hitting a 3 on the break and another on a stepback to tie it.
The Wolfpack never led after halftime but tied it five times, the last at 63-all on Jack Clark’s jumper with 7:14 left.
N.C. State: The Wolfpack will face Dayton, which lost to Wisconsin, in Thursday’s consolation bracket.
Kansas: The Jayhawks advanced to Thursday’s semifinals to face Wisconsin.