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Missouri announces that Tim Fuller will remain on staff

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Missouri announced on Wednesday that Tim Fuller will remain on staff with new head coach Kim Anderson being hired.

Fuller had been with Frank Haith at Missouri for the last three seasons. He’s known as one of the best recruiters in the country and, as associate head coach, earned the first five wins of his career as acting head coach when Haith was suspended at the start of the season.

“I’m ecstatic right now,” Fuller said. “I love Missouri. I appreciate everything about our student-athletes, this state, this school and our fans. This has become my home. After meeting with Coach Anderson the last two days and seeing the way he relates to our student-athletes and coaches, I quickly accepted his offer to join his staff at Mizzou. This is going to be fun.”

Fuller had a chance to take the head coaching position at Florida A&M.

This move is important for the Tigers because it should help ensure that the program is able to continue bringing in top 100 recruits. Anderson has the reputation for being a terrific x’s-and-o’s coach, and while he spent 18 years as an assistant at the Division I level, he hasn’t been back in this century. Literally. The last time he was a D-I coach was in 1999, and while he built a program at Division II Central Missouri that won the 2014 national title, the contacts that he developed at that level will not be the same as the contacts that he would need to attract the kind of talent that Missouri needs to remain near the top of the SEC.

It should also help convince Jakeenan Gant, one of the stars of Missouri’s 2014 recruiting class, will remain with the program.

“I’d like to welcome Tim Fuller as the first member of our coaching staff here at Missouri and applaud how he led this program and kept Mizzou moving forward through practices and recruiting over the last couple weeks,” Anderson said. “Tim has displayed incredible character and loyalty to Mizzou during the transition and demonstrated from our first meeting his commitment and passion for our student-athletes and Mizzou Basketball. I look forward to working closely with Tim as we move our program forward and am excited about the future of Tiger Basketball.”

No. 1 Kentucky survives without Tyler Ulis in lineup

Tyler Ulis
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Less than a week after giving No. 2 Maryland all they could handle, Illinois State went into Lexington and gave No. 1 Kentucky fits.

The Redbirds never really threatened UK in the second half, but they went into the break tied and were within single digits down the stretch, eventually losing 75-63.

Kentucky was flustered. They turned the ball over 15 times compared to just eight assists, they shot 2-for-12 from three and just 29-for-46 (63 percent) from the charity stripe. They simply did not handle Illinois State’s pressure all that well.

And there was a reason for that.

Tyler Ulis didn’t play.

Sometimes it’s difficult to appreciate just what a player brings to a team until that player is not in the lineup, and that was precisely the case with Ulis on Monday night. It was crystal clear what he provides Kentucky. Beyond leadership and the ability to break a press without throwing the ball to the other team, he’s a calming presence. He doesn’t get rattled when a defender is harassing him and he doesn’t get overwhelmed by a situation like a mid-major threatening the No. 1 team in the country in their own gym.

He’s everything you look for in a pure point guard, and for as good as Jamal Murray and Isaiah Briscoe have looked at times this season, it should be crystal clear who the most important player on this Kentucky team is.

LSU loses to Charleston, eliminates at-large bid margin for error

Ben Simmons
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Ben Simmons scored 15 points and grabbed 18 rebounds, the second time in his six-game career that the LSU freshman has collected that many caroms, but that wasn’t enough for the Tigers to avoid dropping a game on the road to the College of Charleston, 70-58. It was the third straight loss for Simmons’ crew, as they fell to Marquette and N.C. State at the Legends Classic last week.

But here’s the thing: LSU didn’t just lose.

The game really wasn’t close.

LSU was down by as many as 23 points. It was 39-17 at the half, and that was after Charleston had a shot at the buzzer called off upon review. They made a bit of a run in the second half but never got closer than seven. When LSU would cut into the lead, the Cougars would respond with a run of their own, killing LSU’s spirit while keeping them at arm’s length.

[RELATED: Ben Simmons’ one college year a waste?]

Now, there are quite a few things here to discuss. For starters, LSU’s effort was, at best, apathetic, and, at worst, regular old pathetic. The team has a serious lack of leadership that was plainly evident on Monday night; would Fred VanVleet let his team fold against a program picked to finish at the bottom of the SoCon? Would Tyler Ulis? For that matter, would Tom Izzo or Mike Krzyzewski or John Calipari?

Perhaps more importantly, does any of that change when Keith Hornsby and Craig Victor get back?

Simmons did show off his potential — 18 boards, four assists, he even made his first three of the year — but he also showed precisely why there are scouts that are trying to curtail the LeBron James comparisons. Simmons was 4-for-15 from the floor with seven turnovers against a mediocre mid-major team. There are so many things that Simmons does well, but scoring efficiently — particularly in half court setting — and shooting the ball consistently are not on that list.

But here’s the biggest issue: LSU may have put themselves in a situation where they aren’t a tournament team. As of today, they’re 3-3 on the season with losses to a pair of teams that, at best, seem destined to be in the bubble conversation on Selection Sunday in addition to this loss to Charleston. The rest of their non-conference schedule is ugly. The only game worth noting is at home against No. 6 Oklahoma at the end of January.

The NCAA factors in non-conference schedule strength when determining at-large teams. You need to at least try, and LSU didn’t try; they have one of the worst non-conference schedules in the country.

The great thing about being in the SEC — as opposed to, say, the Missouri Valley — is that the Tigers will have plenty of chances to earn marquee wins. Six, by my court: Kentucky twice, Texas A&M twice, Vanderbilt on the road and Oklahoma at home. They probably need to win at least two or three of those games to have a real chance, and that’s assuming they can avoid anymore horrid losses in the process.

The season isn’t over six games in, not by any stretch of the imagination.

But LSU has done a hell of a job eliminating their margin for error.