MANHATTAN, Kan. — This is what happens when Kansas State’s offense gets going.
By KELLIS ROBINETT
The Kansas City Star
The Wildcats defeated the Long Beach State 49ers 71-58 on Sunday at Bramlage Coliseum for their most lopsided and most impressive victory of the season. A strong display of three-pointers and transition baskets were the main reasons why.
Freshman guard Marcus Foster led the way with 17 points, Shane Southwell scored 14 points and Omari Lawrence added 10.
Foster was at his finest behind the three-point line, where he sank four of eight shots and helped K-State lead by as many as 23. He led the Wildcats in scoring for the second-straight game.
““They are a pretty good team and we came out and we played hard,” Foster said. “We got a lead on them early and kept the lead. We set the tone.”
K-State (2-1) was at its best in the first half, racing to a 39-22 lead with Southwell scoring 10 points and K-State capitalizing on 10 turnovers from Long Beach State (1-3). But it played well enough in the second half to win by double digits.
Long Beach State coach Dan Monson was impressed with K-State on both ends.
“I felt like they really dominated us with their defensive pressure early,” Monson said. “They really set the tone and we couldn’t get into an offensive rhythm. They really took control. We didn’t get any flow until the game was over.”
The 49ers made a late push behind 14 points and 12 rebounds from Dan Jennings. Overall, they out-rebounded the Wildcats 40-29. That was disappointing to K-State coach Bruce Weber.
“I thought we had a chance to be a little bit more effective on the boards,” said Weber, who pointed out Long Beach State is not a good rebounding team. “We were early, but not at all in the second half.”
Still, the victory moved K-State above .500 for the first time, and sends it to the Puerto Rico Tip-off, a three-game tournament filled with big-name opponents, with momentum.
That is something it lacked during an unexpected loss to Northern Colorado in the season-opener and a victory over Oral Roberts.
Their next game will be against Charlotte at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday.
Foster is excited to see how K-State measures up against strong competition on a neutral court.
“We set ourselves back losing to Northern Colorado. Now we get the chance to play better teams,” Foster said. “This is a chance for everybody to see us and for us to see how good we really are.”
Debut game: Thomas Gipson saw his first action of the season on Saturday. The junior forward, who had been out with concussion-like symptoms, entered to loud applause in the first half. He went on to score two points and grab three rebounds.
K-State coaches eased him back into action, and limited his minutes. But he will play a larger factor moving forward and will likely move into the starting lineup during the Puerto Rico Tip-off.
“He will be better next game,” Weber said. “It takes a little bit of time.”
Welcome home: A.J. Spencer received a warm welcome during player introductions. The Long Beach State junior is from Shawnee, and had friends and family in attendance.
He scored 13 points and left the game to more cheers in the final minutes.
“It was not how I wanted it to end up,” Spencer said. “It was cool to see everybody, but that’s not why I came here. I came here to play K-State. We came up short.”
Worth noting: Will Spradling played quality defense on Mike Caffey, holding him to nine points. Weber credited Lawrence for playing well on both ends, and making important shots in transition.
• K-State and Long Beach State will both play in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off. Monson would look forward to a rematch in the final game. “Our guys would love to play K-State on Sunday,” Monson said. “That is our mentality.”