For UK to beat LSU tomorrow night, they have to do two things: 1) maintain their composure in a hostile environment; and 2) slow down Ben Simmons. The LSU star has been the talk of the college basketball world this season, and his performance Saturday at Vandy showed us why. In a rowdy Memorial Gymnasium, Simmons scored 36 points, grabbed 14 rebounds, and led his team to a crucial win over the ‘Dores, a performance good enough to earn him the honor of SEC Player of the Week.
Containing Simmons will be a challenge, one that Kenny Payne told reporters the players are ready for.
“I’m sure our guys will feel obligated to go at him. He gets a lot of hype. Everybody considers him hands down the best player in the country, so we should be excited to play against him,” Payne said. “It’s one of those issues that we don’t have to bring up. Players know and respect other players, so when you turn on the TV and you see commentators talking about Ben Simmons you can bet that our guys are watching.”
In fact, Payne said two players have already called John Calipari to ask to guard Simmons. Who?
“I can’t say,” Payne said, smiling.
I applaud their enthusiasm, but it’ll take more than one guy to contain Simmons. Payne said the staff is planning to “throw a bunch of players at him” tomorrow night to slow him down.
“I think it’s going to be a number of guys. I think it has to be Alex (Poythress), Marcus (Lee) and maybe at times Isaiah (Briscoe). We want to throw a bunch of players at him that are going to compete against him, put pressure on him, make everything that he does hard. Just compete.”
When asked, Payne didn’t even rule out Tyler Ulis guarding Simmons away from the basket.
“No question. I’m sure that’s one of the things Coach will look at, exploring that option as well.”
Bring it, Ben.