Defense Carries K-State Past Long Beach State, 52-38
Junior Thomas Gipson earned his fifth career double-double with a game-high 18 points and 10 rebounds, as Kansas State used a swarming defense to defeat Long Beach State, 52-38, on Sunday in the consolation game of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off at Coliseo Roberto Clemente.
The Wildcats (3-3) held the 49ers (1-6) to 38 points on 19.6 percent shooting (11-of-56), including 21.7 percent (5-of-23) from 3-point range, and 45.8 percent (11-of-24) from the free throw line. The 38 points tied for the fifth-lowest by an opponent in the modern era of K-State basketball since the 1946-47 season and was the fewest since Alabama-Huntsville scored 26 on Nov. 13, 2012. It marked the ninth time in school history that an opponent was held under 40 points. The 19.6 field goal percentage was the fourth-lowest by an opponent in school history and the lowest since Alabama-Huntsville converted on 16.4 percent (9-of-55) on Nov. 13, 2012.
“Obviously we did a good job defensively,” said head coach Bruce Weber. “It’s one of those games, obviously when you get the early morning on the last day when it’s three games in four days and four games in seven days, it’s about desire and excuses. Who has more excuses and who has more desire? We challenged our guys and we made some progress. We had defended them well at our place; I didn’t know if we could do it as well here. Their legs were a little dead, you don’t make some shots and free throws, but overall I thought we were in a lot of right places, disrupted them.”
The 38 points were also the fewest allowed by a Wildcat team in a game away from Manhattan, surpassing the 39 scored by Nebraska in Lincoln on March 7, 1984.
Gipson paced two Wildcats in double figures with his double-double, as the junior is averaging 18 points on 63.6 percent shooting (14-of-22) with 8.0 rebounds in the last two games. It was his first double-double since the Texas Southern game on Dec. 18, 2012. Foster scored in double figures for the fifth straight game with 10 points to go with a season-high seven rebounds.
The teams went back and forth in the early going before K-State used a 7-0 run to break a 10-all tie midway through the first half. The Wildcats slowly built a double-digit lead to take a 25-13 edge into the locker room as the 49ers missed 20 consecutive field goals to end the half.
Long Beach State connected on just 12.5 percent (4-of-32) from the field in the first half, including 16.7 percent (2-of-12) from 3-point range. It was the second-lowest field goal percentage by an opponent in school history and the lowest since Savannah State shot 4.3 percent on Jan. 7, 2008.
The Wildcats scored the first 12 points of the second half to take a commanding 37-13 lead after a pair of free throws by junior Nino Williams at the 13:06 mark. The 49ers finally ended their shooting drought with a 3-pointer by McKay LaSalle just 30 seconds later, ending a streak of 28 consecutive misses.
Long Beach State could get no closer than the final difference of 14 points, as Weber substituted down the stretch with all 13 available players seeing at least two minutes of action.
Junior Mike Caffey was the lone 49er to score in double figures with a team-high 13 points on 4-of-16 field goals to go with three 3-pointers and a team-tying five rebounds.
K-State returns home to Manhattan on Tuesday after spending an extra day in San Juan to enjoy the cultural experience with the Thanksgiving break. The Wildcats will host Central Arkansas (1-2) at 3 p.m., on Sunday, Dec. 1 at Bramlage Coliseum. Single-game tickets are available for as low as $15 and can purchase at (800) 221-CATS or online at www.kstatesports.com/tickets.