The Wildcats didn’t have a perfect week by any means, but for the most part coach Bruce Weber likes the team he’s taking back home.
Thomas Gipson had 18 points and 10 rebounds as Kansas State cruised to a 52-38 win over Long Beach State in the seventh-place game at the Puerto Rico Tip-Off on Sunday.
Weber acknowledged that playing three games in four days wore on both teams and that the Wildcats probably benefited from playing Sunday against Long Beach State team that was more tired than them coming from the West Coast.
“Obviously we did a good job defensively,” Weber said. “It’s one of those games … it’s about desire and excuses. We challenged our guys and made some progress.
“Overall I thought we were in a lot of right places and disrupted them.”
Marcus Foster added 10 points, his third double-figures performance of the tournament and fifth straight overall.
For the game the 49ers were held to just 19 percent shooting from the field and 21 percent from beyond the arc.
Long Beach State coach Dan Monson said he didn’t think his team played particularly bad after playing well against VCU in the previous round. He said their inability to score put them in a hole that was unrecoverable, though.
But as much as Long Beach State had its issues shooting, Kansas State didn’t play error-free basketball either, committing 23 turnovers.
“I think young guys just have to understand when to go and when not to,” Weber said. “This next month we have (six) homes game and then Gonzaga and (Kansas on Jan. 11) … We gotta make some strides.”
He said having six freshmen on the roster, including Foster, will demand they learn lessons quickly.
“Part of it is young guys, part of it is figuring our roles,” Weber said. “I hope our young guys learn what it’s about.”
The game was close early before Wildcats (3-3) pulled away in the second half as the 49ers’ shooting percentage fell below 15 percent. They went more than 20 minutes without a field goal, missing 28 consecutive shots at one point.
Long Beach State (1-6) got no closer than 15 points in the second half. Mike Caffey led the 49ers with 13 points.
It was Kansas State’s second win this season over Long Beach State. The Wildcats posted a 13-point win on Nov. 17.
The 38 points is a season-low for the 49ers, which lost their sixth straight.
Kansas State took a 25-13 lead in the opening 20 minutes. The Wildcats had a 10-2 advantage in the paint, with most coming from Gipson, who finished the half with 11 points.
Long Beach State tied it at 10, but went cold from the field as K-State closed with a 15-3 spurt.
The 13 points scored by the 49ers was a tournament-record low for a half. The 49ers struggled from all over, shooting just 12 percent (4 for 32) from the field and 16 percent (2 for 12) from the 3-point line.
Despite their struggles at times this week, Weber said he doesn’t think they are that far away from being able to compete in conference play.
“They gotta understand we gotta get better and it’s only going to come through practice and time in the gym,” Weber said. “Little things gotta be important.”