KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas coach Bill Self spoke to his team remotely during breakfast Friday, while the Hall of Famer continued his recovery from an emergency medical procedure earlier this week, and told the Jayhawks that he was proud of their quarterfinal performance in the Big 12 Tournament.
Their semifinal showing might have been even better.
Jalen Wilson had 25 points and 10 rebounds, Gradey Dick made a couple of crucial baskets during a second-half run to help Kansas regain control, and the third-ranked Jayhawks cruised past Iowa State 71-58 on Friday night to move within one more win of defending their tournament title.
“It was great to talk to him, hear his voice,” Wilson said of Self, who went to the hospital Wednesday night and is out for the tournament. “He was super proud of how we did last game and I’m sure he’ll be proud of us this game.”
Dick finished with 15 points for the top-seeded Jayhawks (27-6), who fell behind early in the second half before the defending champs rallied to reach Saturday night’s title game against No. 7 Texas or No. 22 TCU.
Longtime assistant Norm Roberts, serving as the acting coach, said Self was “doing a lot better.” It’s still unknown whether he will be available when the Jayhawks begin the defense of their NCAA championship next week.
“We talked to him today, earlier this morning, going over the game plan – how we wanted to guard, what we wanted to do – and he was good with that,” Roberts said. “He talked to us right after the game and was so excited about the way the guys played. He said, ‘Hey, we really guarded today.’ He was really happy for our guys.”
The Jayhawks were never threatened down the stretch as they clinched their spot in the title game.
“Our guys were fired up to play, excited to play today,” Roberts said, “and we really did a good job defensively of kind of taking them out of what they wanted to do in a lot of ways.”
Kansas Jayhawks say Bill Self ‘excited’ about Big 12 tourney run