Kansas State coach Bruce Weber watched some ugly basketball on Friday, when his Wildcats slopped their way through a 27-point loss to Georgetown in the second round of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off.
Weber had an up-close view at some more hideous hoops in Sunday’s final round of the tournament, but fortunately for him and the Wildcats, this time it took place on the other end of the court.
Long Beach State sank only 19.6 percent of its shots, including an anemic 4-for-32 performance in the first half, enabling the Wildcats to walk away with a 52-38 victory and keep from going winless in their three games on the island.
A three-pointer by Long Beach guard Mike Caffey tied the game 10-10 at the 12:43 mark of the first half. The 49ers then missed their next 28 shots from the field, spanning more than 20 minutes of playing time. By the time they finally made another basket midway through the second half, Kansas State (3-3) had built a 37-13 lead.
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Weber, who had been extremely critical of his team’s performance against Georgetown, was quick to give his players some of the credit for the 49ers’ shooting woes.
“Their legs were a little dead and they didn’t make some shots,” Weber said. “But overall I thought we were in a lot of right places defensively and disrupted them.”
“It’s one of those games where it’s early morning on the last day, the third game in four days, and it’s all about desire. Who has more desire? We challenged our guys, and I thought we made some progress.”
Long Beach coach Dan Monson tried to find some humor in his team’s struggles late in the game, when the clock continued to run after the 49ers (1-6) were whistled for a foul.
As the officials went to a monitor to determine how much time should be added back to the clock, Monson yelled with a smile, “I’m OK with the way it is. It’s like a sympathy clock in high school football.”
“Shooting can be contagious, and today it became contagious the wrong way,” Monson said after the game. “A couple of guys missed jump shots, and then all of the sudden everybody was missing jump shots.”
K-State junior forward Thomas Gipson made his first start of the season and scored 18 points on 8-of-12 shooting and grabbed 10 rebounds, both game highs. Marcus Foster added 10 points for the Wildcats, who sank 47.6 of their shots (20 of 42).
“Offensively, we’re starting to establish some roles,” Weber said. “When we moved the ball side to side, we usually got a good shot. If we tried to do something too quick, we usually didn’t do very well. But for the most part, I thought our guys were very locked in today.
“We’re not that far away (from being a good team). But at the same time, if we don’t improve, and if the guys don’t understand how much they have to improve, then we’ll continue to struggle. We still have to make some strides.”