Another day, another monster Ben Simmons box score, as the projected No. 1 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft finished with 21 points, 12 boards, two assists and two blocks against Wake Forest on Tuesday night.
It was another loss for LSU, this one perhaps the most worrying of them all.
The Tigers fell 77-71 in Baton Rouge on Tuesday, which is not exactly surprising considering that this is a team that has already lost to Charleston, Houston, Marquette and Arizona State this season. Johnny Jones’ club has been anything but impressive through the season’s first month and a half.
But things were supposed to change now that Craig Victor is eligible and Keith Hornsby is healthy. Victor was supposed to be the mobile, tough and physical presence alongside Simmons. Hornsby was supposed to be the consistent shooting presence on the wing, the veteran leader that wasn’t going to let his teammates get away with slumbering through a road trip.
And yet, here we are. Victor played 37 minutes and had 19 points. Hornsby played 39 minutes and had 13 points and three assists. LSU still lost.
But there may be something to that: Wake Forest is actually pretty good.
(I tried to give you all a heads up about this, by the way. There’s a reason I have them in the NCAA tournament in my ACC Reset. You’re welcome.)
Bryant Crawford, arguably the nation’s most underrated freshman, played one of his best games as a collegian while Devin Thomas and Konstantinos Mitoglou combined for 29 points despite being limited to a combined 44 minutes due to foul trouble. That trio has already led Wake to wins over Indiana and UCLA, both of which came out in Maui, and they still haven’t gotten Codi Miller-McIntyre back to full strength. When healthy, he’s may actually be their best player.
The issue for Wake this season has been turnovers. They come often and they come in bunches. Miller-McIntyre returning should help limit that, but Wake still coughed the ball up 18 times against an LSU team that really isn’t all that good defensively. That’s an issue that will need to be addressed.
But the bottom-line is this: Wake Forest is talented enough that LSU and Simmons losing to them at home is not a bad loss. It may not even be an upset.