K-State begins week-long road trip in Long Beach

Sophomore guard Jevon Thomas dribbles around a player on Nov. 17, 2014 at Bramlage Coliseum. Thomas has a total of 14 assists this season. (Rodney Dimick | The Collegian)

Before they are welcomed to Maui’s island life with sunny skies and flowery leis, K-State men’s basketball will travel west for a matchup against Long Beach State on Friday night.

Tipoff from Long Beach, California between K-State and the 49ers is slated for 9:30 p.m. Following Friday’s game, K-State will fly to Hawaii for the 2014 Maui Invitational.

Long Beach State, who is a member of the Big West Conference, enter the meeting 1-2, fresh off a 23-point road loss to Xavier on Tuesday. Led by senior guards Mike Caffey and Tyler Lamb, a total of four players are averaging double figures.

Caffey leads the team in several statistical categories including scoring (19.7 per game), rebounds (3.7) and assists (4.7). Lamb, meanwhile, scored 17 points in 29 minutes in his first game of the season on Tuesday.

“Caffey is a very, very good point guard,” K-State head coach Bruce Weber said Wednesday. “We did a good job on him last year and really made him earn it. It was a mixture of all the guys.”

Last year, K-State jumped out to a 17-point lead on the 49ers en route to a 71-58 victory at Bramlage Coliseum. Caffey, then a junior, was held to nine points on four for 10 shooting.

The two teams also met just one week after the first matchup in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off. A stellar defensive performance and 52-38 score gave the Wildcats their second win over the 49ers in as many chances.

As a team this season, Long Beach State is shooting an impressive 54 percent from the field. They also have six players who are shooting 40 percent or better from 3-point land, including senior guard McKay LaSalle, who is 11 of 21 on the season.

“They’re scoring the basketball a lot better than they did last year,” Weber said. “(They had) 90 at BYU and went in at halftime with 48 or 46 (points). BYU got ahead of them midway through the second half by eight or something and they still kept it within reason.”

K-State is eyeing their ninth 3-0 start in the last 10 seasons on Friday against the 49ers. The Wildcats are coming off an 83-73 win over UMKC on Monday. Senior forward Thomas Gipson led the team against the Kangaroos with 21 points and nine rebounds. Guards sophomore Marcus Foster, junior Justin Edwards and sophomore Nigel Johnson scored in double digits for the second-straight game to aid in the 10-point victory.