Tag: Ben Simmons

Johnny Jones
Associated Press

Defense, rebounding cost LSU in loss at Houston

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Having lost the biggest games on their non-conference schedule to date, LSU entered Sunday’s game at Houston in a position where they could ill-afford any more losses before the start of SEC play. But thanks to issues on the defensive end of the floor Johnny Jones’ team suffered its fourth loss of the season, falling 105-98 in overtime at Hoffheinz Pavilion.

Ben Simmons fouling out late in regulation did the Tigers no favors in the extra session, which came as a result of a Keith Hornsby three-pointer with nine seconds remaining in regulation. But when you defend and rebound at the level that LSU did Sunday night, it’s tough to win close games.

Houston shot 51.4 percent from the field and grabbed 17 offensive rebounds, converting those opportunities into 20 second-chance points. The played who posed the biggest issue for LSU in this regard was junior forward Chicken Knowles, who accounted for 20 points and nine rebounds before fouling out with six of his boards coming on the offensive end.

Houston scored 50 points in the paint Sunday night, taking advantage of numerous defensive breakdowns in the process. Those points came from second-chance opportunities and dribble penetration, with guard Rob Gray Jr. hitting multiple floaters on his way to a career-high 31 points. That all isn’t on the shoulders of the LSU big men given Houston’s ability to get quality looks off the dribble, but the Tigers need more from the likes of Aaron Epps (12 points) and Elbert Robinson III as they combined for four rebounds in the game.

The addition of Arizona transfer Craig Victor will help LSU in the front court; besides Simmons they don’t have much in the way of consistent production on the glass in the paint (Epps and Robinson average a combined six rebounds per game). But the Tigers’ issues when it comes to their lack of attention to detail, which was once again evident against Houston, cannot be solved by the arrival of one player.

That’s going to be a collective effort, and to this point in the season LSU hasn’t shown the ability to do this against quality competition on a consistent basis.

The offense is there, and the return of Hornsby is a big deal for a team that had issues with perimeter shooting. Hornsby scored 32 points, shooting 6-for-10 from three with his teammates combining to shot 3-for-16 from deep. Simmons added 13 points, 14 rebounds and five assists before fouling out, and Quarterman accounted for 27 points, ten rebounds and six assists off the bench (disciplinary reasons).

For all the talk about Simmons’ individual gifts and how his game translates to the next level, there’s work to be done at the college level first. And if Simmons and his teammates are to have any shot at getting to the NCAA tournament, they have to straighten things out on the defensive end.

LSU wins behind Simmons’ historic night but issues still loom

Ben Simmons
Associated Press
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Monday night’s decisive loss at the College of Charleston was the worst performance of the young season for an LSU team saddled with lofty expectations. The Tigers couldn’t make shots, and even though he managed to tally 15 points, 18 rebounds and four assists in that game freshman forward Ben Simmons shot 4-for-15 from the field and also had seven turnovers.

LSU needed to rebound Wednesday night against Atlantic Sun preseason favorite North Florida and they did, winning 119-108 thanks in large part to an incredible performance from their 6-foot-10 freshman phenom.

Simmons shot 15-for-20 from the field, with just two of those attempts coming outside of the paint, scored 43 points while also accounting for 14 rebounds, seven assists, five steals and three blocked shots. And he only turned the ball over twice against the Ospreys, who didn’t look to double-team Simmons all that often. He took advantage, getting to just about wherever he wanted to go on the court against a team whose tallest player who saw action was 6-foot-8.

So what do we take out of this? A historic performance, one in which Simmons joined Shaquille O’Neal and Pete Maravich as the lone players in school history to score 43 points in a game? Or a game in which, while acknowledging Simmons’ achievements, the Tigers allowed 108 points? How about both?

Wednesday’s game produced multiple standout offensive performances, with UNF’s tandem of Beau Beech and Dallas Moore scoring 31 points apiece and LSU guards Josh Gray and Tim Quarterman both posting stat lines of 20 points, six assists and one turnover on the night. But it would be Simmons, projected by many to be the top pick in next June’s NBA Draft, who stole the show.

The performance certainly deserves praise. But if Simmons is to have the opportunity to showcase his skills on college basketball’s biggest stage, LSU has some strides to make defensively.

Naismith Trophy early season watch list released

Denzel Valentine
Associated Press
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Wednesday afternoon the Atlanta Tipoff Club released its early season watch list for the Naismith Trophy, which is annually given to the nation’s top college basketball player. Fifty players are on the initial list, and a player being left off does not prevent them from appearing on lists that will be released later this season or winning the award at season’s end.

Seven freshmen made the initial list, including LSU’s Ben Simmons and Kentucky’s Skal Labissiere and Jamal Murray. Labissiere and Murray are joined on the list by teammate Tyler Ulis, making Kentucky one of two schools that can boast three players. The other school with three players on the initial watch list is Kansas, with guards Frank Mason III and Wayne Selden Jr., and forward Perry Ellis making the cut.

There are a number of programs with two players on the list, including Duke (Grayson Allen, Brandon Ingram), Gonzaga (Domas Sabonis, Kyle Wiltjer), Iowa State (Monté Morris, Georges Niang) and Wichita State (Ron Baker, Fred VanVleet). Below is the full list, with the midseason watch list (30 players) scheduled to be released in February.

Sophomore SG Grayson Allen (Duke)
Senior PF Ryan Anderson (Arizona)
Senior PG Ryan Arcidiacono (Villanova)
Senior SG Ron Baker (Wichita State)
Junior SF DeAndre Bembry (Saint Joseph’s)
Senior SG Malcolm Brogdon (Virginia)
Freshman SF Jaylen Brown (California)
Senior G Kyle Collinsworth (BYU)
Senior SG Kellen Dunham (Butler)
Junior PG Kris Dunn (Providence)
Senior SG A.J. English (Iona)
Senior PG Yogi Ferrell (Indiana)
Senior PF Rico Gathers Sr. (Baylor)
Senior G Michael Gbinije (Syracuse)
Junior SG Jack Gibbs (Davidson)
Senior C A.J. Hammons (Purdue)
Senior SG Shaquille Harrison (Tulsa)
Junior F Nigel Hayes (Wisconsin)
Senior SG Buddy Hield (Oklahoma)
Senior SG Danuel House (Texas A&M)
Freshman G/F Brandon Ingram (Duke)
Junior PG Demetrius Jackson (Notre Dame)
Sophomore SF Justin Jackson (North Carolina)
Junior C Damian Jones (Vanderbilt)
Freshman PF Skal Labissiere (Kentucky)
Senior SG Damion Lee (Louisville)
Senior SG Caris LeVert (Michigan)
Junior PG Frank Mason III (Kansas)
Senior SG Sheldon McClellan (Miami)
Senior PG Nic Moore (SMU)
Junior PG Monté Morris (Iowa State)
Freshman SG Jamal Murray (Kentucky)
Freshman SG Malik Newman (Mississippi State)
Senior PF Georges Niang (Iowa State)
Senior PG Marcus Paige (North Carolina)
Senior G Gary Payton II (Oregon State)
Sophomore F/C Jakob Poeltl (Utah)
Sophomore PF Domantas Sabonis (Gonzaga)
Junior G/F Wayne Selden Jr. (Kansas)
Freshman F Ben Simmons (LSU)
Senior PG D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera (Georgetown)
Freshman PF Caleb Swanigan (Purdue)
Junior PG Isaiah Taylor (Texas)
Sophomore PG Melo Trimble (Maryland)
Sophomore PG Tyler Ulis (Kentucky)
Senior G Denzel Valentine (Michigan State)
Senior PG Fred VanVleet (Wichita State)
Senior PG Tyrone Wallace (California)
Senior PF Kyle Wiltjer (Gonzaga)