PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas — Bill Self couldn’t wait to get started Wednesday at the Battle 4 Atlantis. Neither could hot-shooting Kansas rookie Gradey Dick.
Dick scored a season-high 25 points to help the third-ranked Jayhawks beat NC State 80-74 in Wednesday’s tournament opener, giving Self a successful return to the bench after a four-game suspension.
Dick had 18 on six 3-pointers in the first half before going 1 for 8 from the field after halftime. Jalen Wilson added 19 points and 11 rebounds for the reigning national champion Jayhawks (5-0), who blew an eight-point halftime lead and a nine-point second-half lead before grinding it out.
“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.
It also helped, Dick said, to “have a Hall of Famer in our corner” again.
Kansas had imposed the suspension on Self and assistant Kurtis Townsend as part of the fallout from a pending NCAA infractions case tied to the federal investigation into corruption within the sport.
Self was allowed to coach practices, so he remained involved with the team. But on gamedays, he said he got a dose of the helpless perspective of a fan while assistant Norm Roberts led the team. He said he couldn’t even take notes until he watched the game on a replay.
He was ready for Wednesday right from the 7 a.m. wake-up call.
“I usually don’t jump out of bed,” Self said, “but I kind of did today because I was excited about what was getting ready to happen.”
As he emerged from the tunnel, Self was greeted with loud cheers from a boisterous Kansas fan section. He had a slight smile as one fan dangled a Jayhawks national title banner as he walked by and gave light high-fives to a line of about a half-dozen fans who had extended their arms over their railing.
Casey Morsell scored 21 points to lead the Wolfpack (4-1), while Terquavion Smith added 19 points.
This was NC State’s first appearance at Atlantis since 2017 at the start of Kevin Keatts’ coaching tenure. That team opened by beating No. 2 Arizona and this year’s bunch gave Kansas fits all the way to the final minutes.
“We missed a couple of free throws down the stretch, I thought they got out in transition,” 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.”
NC State will face Dayton, which lost to Wisconsin, in Thursday’s consolation bracket.
Wake Forest 105, South Carolina State 71
WINSTON-SALEM — Cameron Hildreth scored 19 points to lead six in double figures and Wake Forest rolled to a 103-71 victory over winless South Carolina State on Wednesday night.
Wake Forest (5-1) bounced back from its only loss this season, a 77-75 overtime defeat to LMU at the Jamaica Classic Championship on Sunday. The Demon Deacons shot 68% (36 of 53) from the floor and made 24 of 31 free throws against South Carolina State.
Damari Monsanto scored 16 points, and Bobi Klintman had 15 points and 10 rebounds for Wake Forest. Tyree Appleby added 13 points, and Matthew Marsh and Jao Ituka had 10 apiece.
Lesown Hallums scored 14 points for South Carolina State (0-6), which also had six score in double figures.
Hildreth, Monsanto and Appleby combined for 37 of Wake Forest’s 51 first-half points in building a 24-point lead. Monsanto and Appleby each made three 3-pointers in the half, and the pair finished 7 of 12 from long range.
The Bulldogs pulled within 18 points with 12:30 to play but didn’t get closer. Monsanto later capped a 22-7 run with a dunk that stretched the lead to 33 points with 6:10 remaining.
East Carolina 79, UT Arlington 65
ESTERO, Fla. — Javon Small had 18 points in East Carolina’s 79-65 victory over UT Arlington on Wednesday.
Small added six rebounds and six assists for the Pirates (5-1). RJ Felton scored 16 points and added 13 rebounds. Wynston Tabbs recorded 16 points and was 5-of-10 shooting, including 3 for 5 from distance.
Kyron Gibson led the way for the Mavericks (3-4) with 13 points. UT Arlington also got 10 points, four assists and three steals from Marion Humphrey.
High Point 77, Tennessee State 72
SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO, Calif. — Bryant Randleman scored 18 points as High Point beat Tennessee State 77-72 on Wednesday night at the SoCal Challenge
Randleman added seven rebounds for the Panthers (5-1). Jaden House scored 17 points while shooting 6 for 17 and adding six rebounds. Zach Austin was 5-of-10 shooting (3 for 6 from distance) to finish with 14 points.
The Tigers (4-2) were led by Adong Makuoi, Marcus Fitzgerald Jr. and Christian Brown with 12 points each.
Queens 107, Lynchburg 72
CHARLOTTE — Chris Ashby’s 22 points off of the bench helped Queens to a 107-72 victory over Lynchburg on Wednesday night.
Ashby added five assists for the Royals (5-1). AJ McKee scored 16 points while shooting 4 for 7 (2 for 4 from 3-point range) and adding five rebounds. Gavin Rains recorded 14 points and shot 7 of 10 from the field.
Jordan Parham led the Hornets in scoring, finishing with 15 points. Landon Sutton added 12 points for Lynchburg. Cuddah Savage also put up 11 points and four assists.
Appalachian State 74, East Tennessee State 70
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. — Donovan Gregory had 14 points in Appalachian State’s 74-70 win against East Tennessee State on Wednesday night.
Gregory shot 3 of 9 from the field and 8 for 8 from the line for the Mountaineers (5-2). Tyree Boykin scored 13 points while going 5 of 7 (1 for 3 from distance) and added three steals. Dibaji Walker was 5-of-8 shooting and finished with 12 points.
Jalen Haynes led the Buccaneers (3-3) in scoring, finishing with 16 points and 12 rebounds. East Tennessee State also got 13 points and three steals from Deanthony Tipler. Josh Taylor also recorded 13 points.
Jacksonville 64, Campbell 43
BUIES CREEK — Kevion Nolan had 20 points in Jacksonville’s 64-43 victory against Campbell on Wednesday night.
Nolan was 7-of-12 shooting, including 3 for 7 from distance, for the Dolphins (3-1). Jordan Davis added 10 points while finishing 4 of 7 from the floor, and he also had 13 rebounds. Dylan O’Hearn recorded 10 points and was 4-of-7 shooting (2 for 3 from distance).
The Fighting Camels (3-3) were led by Ricky Clemons, who recorded 12 points and three steals. Jay Pal added 10 points, eight rebounds, four steals and four blocks for Campbell.
Detroit 70, Charlotte 49