Down the stretch in LSU-Oklahoma, where was Ben Simmons?
Saturday's Oklahoma-LSU game was billed as the Sooners' Buddy Hield vs. the Tigers' Ben Simmons. Hield, a leading candidate — probably the leading candidate — for National Player of the Year, did his part, scoring 32 points, including seven 3-pointers in the second half, when the No. 1 Sooners rallied from 14 points down and eked out a 77-75 victory.
However, though Simmons, a versatile 6-foot-10 forward, had a solid game, finishing with 14 points, nine rebounds and five assists, he hardly touched the ball in the crucial moments.
For those watching the ESPN telecast, it's not as if you didn't hear Simmons' name down the stretch. The men handling the call, Brent Musburger and Dick Vitale, kept saying how LSU needed to run its offense through Simmons, but it never happened.
This play-by-play shows Simmons scored his last points on an offensive rebound with about 10 minutes left, then, for the rest of way, he grabbed two defensive rebounds, committed two fouls, threw away a pass and missed a shot near the basket.
That's not much out of a player — albeit a freshman — whom Magic Johnson has compared to LeBron James.
While Vitale was talking about how Simmons needed to aggressively demand the ball, Musburger raised the question of whether it was really the coach's job to make sure Simmons got it.
LSU coach Johnny Jones said Oklahoma's defense was denying LSU from getting the ball inside.
"Ben did a great job of getting where he needed to," Jones said via The Associated Press. "We've got to do a better job of getting it to him. We can't get it in there late to him where they can maybe get deflections. ... As we continue to play, we'll continue to get better at it."