PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas — The 2022-23 Kansas men’s basketball season resumed Wednesday with a matchup of the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament at Imperial Arena against NC State.
The No. 3 Jayhawks earned an 82-76 home win over Southern Utah. The Wolfpack finished with a 74-63 home win over Elon. This is Kansas’ first appearance at the tournament since 2013.
Did coach Bill Self’s Jayhawks’ side continue their unbeaten run in their first game after a self-imposed suspension that included assistant coach Kurtis Townsend? Did coach Kevin Keatts’ Wolfpack side pull off a surprise win? It was a matchup of the Big 12 Conference and Atlantic Coast Conference programs.
Here’s what happened:
FINALS: Kansas 80, NC State 74
Kansas went small late after KJ Adams Jr. committed his fifth foul. That left Jalen Wilson in 5th place. And although NC State made a late push, it wasn’t enough and the Jayhawks won.
Kansas leads 76-68 with 2:26 in the 2nd half
That just seemed like a swing it should do then. An NC State player missed two free throws and on the ensuing possession, Gradey Dick scored for Kansas. And after another possession with no points for the Wolfpack, Jalen Wilson gave the Jayhawks two more points to take them to eight points by a little less than two and a half minutes.
Kansas leads 71-67 against NC State with 3:42 in the 2nd half
There’s been some big, big buckets of Dajuan Harris Jr. around here lately, and that’s in large part why the Jayhawks are up late at four o’clock here. On an efficient shooting day, he has up to 11 points. And he also leads all players with five assists.
Kansas leads 67-65 against NC State with 5:26 in the 2nd half
There were some wild possessions in this game, but Kansas still maintains a slim lead by about five and a half minutes. Who can take advantage of the additional possessions may determine this themselves. The Jayhawks have a slight advantage in second chance points so far.
Kansas leads 61-59 against NC State with 7:42 in the 2nd half
NC State will have a chance to equalize after the break. There are still a few free throws and in the second half it’s only two with 7:42. But before that happens, Kansas still has a small lead.
Both sides have 11 turnovers to this point, but the Jayhawks are 19 points clear of the Wolfpack’s 13. Kansas has been sloppy at times, but that’s not why it’s in a tight game. It also had more chances on the free-throw line and made more too.
Kansas leads 55-49 against NC State with 11:14 in the 2nd half
Gradey Dick will go on the line for three free throws after being fouled on a shot and goes on this break. Before that happens, the Jayhawks have a 55-49 lead. A little more than half of the second half remains.
NC State had called for a technical foul during that final stretch. It looked like an assistant coach had said something that displeased an official. Dick, who leads all scorers with 20 points, then hit two free throws to bolster Kansas’ lead.
Kansas leads 46-43 against NC State with 15:43 in the 2nd half
Kevin McCullar Jr. has been cheering for the Jayhawks here and will have free throws after they come out of this timeout. McCullar hit a 3-pointer to put Kansas at 46-43. 15:43 is now left in the second half.
KJ Adams Jr. was taken out after committing his third foul. So look for Ernest Udeh Jr. to get a longer run off the bench here. For the most part, the Jayhawks have held up well against the size the Wolfpack can compare to theirs.
Kansas and NC State are 39-39 with 17:57 left in the 2nd half
Bill Self is hot and yelling at several officials after calling a timeout with 5:57 left. It’s clear he’s both upset and how the second half has started. Kansas just saw NC State finish 39-39 after an 8-0 run.
The praise isn’t working for Kansas right now. It may have to go a different way offensively if it’s going to be successful. Even the veterans like Dajuan Harris Jr. struggle with it.
The second half is on
Kansas went out at halftime with their usual starters. That’s Dajuan Harris Jr., Gradey Dick, Kevin McCullar Jr., Jalen Wilson and KJ Adams Jr. And the Jayhawks had the ball at the start.
Kansas leads 39-31 at halftime against NC State
The Jayhawks have their biggest lead of the game at halftime, and who else but Gradey Dick could give them that. Dick nailed a 3-pointer as the first half wound down. Dick has 18 points in 6v9 shooting from the field – all 3s.
Kansas leads 33-27 against NC State with 3:01 in the 1st half
Man, even Dajuan Harris Jr. just nailed a 3-pointer. The Jayhawks are now 8-for-11 behind the arc. They lead 33-27 with 3:01 in the first half.
It seems like freshman Zuby Ejiofor performed well for Kansas in the minutes he got in the first half. The Jayhawks don’t have much success praising the ball to its great heights and Ejiofor is no exception, but with Zach Clemence only recently cleared to play they would need Ejiofor to be reliable. He has done so so far.
Kansas and NC State are 25-25 with 5:59 left in the 1st half
The Jayhawks and Wolfpack have played nearly three quarters of the first half and remain tied. Each team had their share of highlight games, but all were possibly topped by Kansas’ Kevin McCullar Jr., who nailed a 3-pointer when the shot clock ran out not long ago. That even made Bill Self laugh.
As sloppy as Kansas was at times offensively, it was able to hit 3s to make up for it. The Jayhawks have six turnovers, but they’re also 6-for-9 on 3s — with Gradey Dick hitting the other five. More controlled play on offense, especially when it comes to lobs, will get Kansas rolling as NC State struggles to play much offensively as well.
Kansas and NC State are 15-15 with 11:14 left in the 1st half
Kansas’ first substitutions of the game came at 13:25 in the first half. Ernest Udeh Jr. and Bobby Pettiford Jr. walked in. Kevin McCullar Jr. and KJ Adams Jr. both came out.
Gradey Dick of Kansas leads all scorers by nine points. He’s already 3-for-4 behind the arc against NC State. Now he just needs a little more help from his teammates – including Jalen Wilson, who just had his first bucket to tie the score at 15-15.
NC State leads 5-4 with 15:44 in the 1st half
Offensively, the Jayhawks find it difficult to find open looks. Bill Self is frustrated with how some plays are doing. And that’s in large part why Kansas is 5-4 down in the first half after a timeout at 15:44.
However, the Jayhawks defended the wolfpack well. In fact, NC State is kicking the ball off the field worse than Kansas is at this point. But those efforts, led by Dajuan Harris Jr., haven’t been enough to keep NC State from taking the lead.
KJ Adams Jr. of Kansas won the pick and it is ongoing.
Bill is back on the bench
Bill Self comments on MJ Rice, Zach Clemence
Zach Clemence appears on the Kansas pregame radio show
Clemence, a freshman forward, said it feels great to be back and practicing again after suffering a punch in the face against North Dakota State earlier this season. It hurt to have to miss the trip to Indianapolis for the Champions Classic, but he noted that it’s beautiful here in the Bahamas. In the off-season as he prepared for the season, he said he worked to improve on what he was already capable of.
The key to defeating NC State will be guarding its shooters, Clemence said.
Add the Wilder Evers walk-on to Kansas’ injury report
Here’s a look at Kansas freshman MJ Rice in warm-up drills
Two Jayhawks to watch when considering whether to play
Zach Clemence and MJ Rice are both going through warmups for Kansas. It’s unclear if both or either of them will play today after Tuesday’s training as both are recovering from health issues. Clemence was on concussion protocol and Rice had kidney stones last weekend after also missing earlier in the season with illness and losing time with a back injury.
Relive the last Kansas competition
Jordan Guskey covers University of Kansas Athletics in the Topeka Capital-Journal. Reach out to him at [email protected] or on Twitter @JordanGuskey.