MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) An upcoming trip to the Puerto Rico Tip Off didn’t look too good to Bruce Weber after his team’s first two games. He wanted to see his team perform from the opening tip and that’s exactly what came to be in its third game of the season.
Marcus Foster had 17 points and Shane Southwell added 14 as Kansas State beat Long Beach State 71-58 on Sunday.
It was the seventh all-time meeting between the programs. Kansas State now holds a 5-2 advantage in the series.
“The effort and emotion was so much better,” Weber said. “Probably before Oral Roberts, we really pounded them with the Northern Colorado loss. They probably didn’t have quite the legs, but we gave them a day off finally. We had two of our better practices over the last two days with good energy.”
Kansas State used a 17-4 run to open up a 26-9 lead with 6:48 left in the first half.
After the run, Kansas State never saw its lead dip below 13 points.
Dan Jennings had 14 points and 12 rebounds to pace the 49ers. The senior forward has recorded a double-double in each of the 49ers’ first four games.
A basket from Jennings closed the Kansas State margin to 14 points with 2:20 left in the first half. Back-to-back 3-pointers from Foster quickly sent it back to a 20-point margin. The Wildcats went into the break with a 39-22 lead.
“Long Beach is a pretty good team,” Foster said. “We came out and played hard. We got a lead on them early and we kept the lead. It set the tone for how we want to play in the (Puerto Rico) tournament.”
Foster’s 42 points through Kansas State’s first two games is the most for a freshman in back-to-back games since Michael Beasley in the 2008 NCAA Tournament.
“I think he is obviously a quality player,” Monson said. “For a freshman, he has great feel and aggressiveness.”
Long Beach State turned it over 10 times in the first half and finished with 20 for the game.
Those offensive miscues led to 19 Kansas State points off of turnovers and 15 in fast break opportunities. The Wildcats 13 steals were the most in nearly three seasons.
“They really dominated us with their defensive pressure early and set a tone,” Monson said. “We couldn’t get in any offensive rhythm and it started putting so much pressure on our defense and our rebounding to get stops. We weren’t able to do that and they just took control.”
Kansas State limited Long Beach State’s leading scorer Mike Caffey to 9 points. The junior had averaged 18.7 points through the previous three games.
“We picked up our pressure,” Weber said. “I’ve got to complement Will (Spradling), he did a great job. Caffey’s good and if you let him get going, he’s as good of guard as any we’re going to see.”
The 49ers pounded the paint against the Wildcats in the second half. They shortened the Wildcat lead to 13 with 11:47 left, but baskets from DJ Johnson and Wesley Iwundu quickly slammed the door on Long Beach State.
The Wildcats got to the free throw line and converted on nine of their final 10 attempts. The 71 percent performance was a season best for the defending Big 12 champions.
The game was the debut for Kansas State’s leading returning big man Thomas Gipson. The Wildcats hoped the junior’s season opener would help in improving their rebounding, but the 49ers came away with a 39-29 advantage.
“I was pleased with our rebounding,” Monson said. “It was one thing we really challenged the guys on and that was a high point for us. It is a little misleading in that we out-rebounded a team, but we missed so many more shots than they did.”