John Calipari and Kentucky will be tasked with defending LSU freshman phenom Ben Simmons on Tuesday night when the Wildcats travel to Baton Rouge, La. for a battle with the Bayou Bengals.
Calipari discussed Simmons’ versatile skill set during Monday’s SEC teleconference.
“They got one of the best players in the country who can beat you 10 different ways,” Calipari said.
Calipari said he will need to have a diverse gameplan to shut down Simmons and the cast of Tigers around him.
“You better have a gameplan A and B against him because he can go for 40 (points),” Calipari said. “He is a 6-9 point guard-ish guy that will go inside, score next to the basket, makes free throws so you can’t foul him and in transition when he brings it up he’s a great playmaker.”
But Simmons isn’t the sole player on LSU’s roster who can produce. LSU also has senior guard Keith Hornsby and junior guard Tim Quarterman who are averaging 17.5 and 13.4 points per game, respectively. Calipari acknowledged that beating LSU doesn’t end with stopping Simmons.
“But they’ve got guards that can really shoot the ball,” Calipari said. “They’ve got veteran guards who play off of him and do really good too. If you think ‘well let’s just stop him,’ those other guys will get you for 30.”
Kentucky is coming off of an impressive 22-point victory over Ole Miss in its SEC opener. They will need to bring that same intensity to the Pete Maravich Assembly Center if they hope to beat Simmons and the Tigers.
It will be the first time Kentucky has faced the nation’s top recruit since the Wildcats squared off with North Carolina and Harrison Barnes in 2010. The Wildcats did a pretty good job against Barnes, limiting him to 12 points on 4-of-10 shooting and seven rebounds in a 75-73 loss to the Tar Heels.
Tomorrow's game v. LSU, Ben Simmons (9pm ESPN) will be first time Kentucky has faced the #1 overall recruit since Harrison Barnes, UNC.
— Jay Bilas (@JayBilas) January 4, 2016