MANHATTAN, Kan. – After scoring a career-high 25 points against Oral Roberts on Wednesday, freshman guard Marcus Foster tallied 17 points on 4-of-9 shooting, including four 3-pointers, to lead Kansas State to a 71-58 win over Long Beach State on Sunday.
His 42 combined points in the last two games are the most by a true freshman in back-to-back games since Michael Beasley combined for 46 points vs. USC and Wisconsin in the 2008 NCAA Tournament in Omaha, Neb.
Seniors Shane Southwell and Omari Lawrence joined Foster in double-digit scoring with 14 and 10 points, respectively. Southwell added a team-high six rebounds along with three assists, while Lawrence collected a game-high three steals.
“We have stressed making improvement, making strides each day and each practice so that we can keep getting better,” said head coach Bruce Weber. “We have a new team with a lot of different pieces that have to be figured out but the effort was and emotion was so much better today.”
The Wildcats (2-1) jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the opening two minutes of the game after a Wesley Iwundu alley-oop from Foster and a 3-pointer from Southwell. K-State pushed the lead to 14-5 after seven minutes, capped off by four straight points from Lawrence. After a Dan Jennings tip-in cut the lead to 31-17, back-to-back 3-pointer by Foster put the Wildcats back on top 34-17. The home team went into the break holding a commanding 39-22 lead.
The second half saw more of the same from K-State. D.J. Johnson scored four quick points, followed by Foster hitting two more consecutive 3-pointers to give the Wildcats a decisive 49-26 advantage with 16:39 left in the game. LBSU (1-3) would cut the lead to 54-41, after Christian Griggs-Williams made a lay-up with 11:46 remaining, but the Wildcats would not allow the 49ers to come any closer than 13 points for the rest of the game.
Jennings led Long Beach State with 14 points, while Shawnee, Kan., and Hutchinson Community College product A.J. Spencer chipped in 13.
Despite being outrebounded 40-29, the Wildcats turned up the intensity on defense, forcing 20 turnovers and getting 13 steals. The 13 steals are the most the Wildcats have had in a single game since snagging 14 against South Dakota on Jan. 3, 2010. K-State was able to cash in 19 points off of turnovers.
Next up for the Wildcats is a journey south for the Puerto Rico Tip-Off on Monday, as K-State open the tournament on Thursday at 9:30 a.m. CT vs. Charlotte on ESPNU. The squad will play three games in a four-day period from Thursday to Sunday at the Coliseo de Roberto Clemente in San Juan. The next home game is Sunday, Dec. 1, as the Wildcats play host to Central Arkansas at 3 p.m. Tickets can be purchased for as low as $15 through the Athletics Ticket Office by calling (800) 221-CATS. The game will be broadcast on FOX Sports Kansas City.