Ben Simmons’ bizarre double-double not enough for LSU vs. NC State

LSU freshman phenom Ben Simmons had just four points and one made field goal against NC State on Tuesday night, but that did not mean his impact was not felt in a fun overtime battle between the two teams in the consolation game of the Legends Classic in Brooklyn.

It was a tough test for these two teams, coming less than 24 hours after LSU’s close loss to Marquette and NC State’s loss to Arizona State, but the Wolfpack got enough in the extra period to win 83-72.

Simmons had a 16 rebounds (10 on defense) and 10 assists — both team-high numbers — to go with that four-point showing while junior guard Tim Quarterman (19 points) and Brandon Sampson (18 points) did most of the work on the offensive end.

It was odd to see Simmons so uninvolved on offense after his 21-point, 20-rebound game Monday night, but when he wasn’t able to get in the flow early it didn’t take long for his teammates to step up. The Tigers’ much-hyped freshman was still active on the defensive glass and set up his teammates, but when it came to crunch time at the end of regulation it didn’t look like Simmons was an option.

The stars of the night for NC State were twins Cody Martin and Caleb Martin (30 points, 19 rebounds combined) the team finished with five players in double figures, led by Cat Barber’s 20 points (12 of 12 from the line).

NC State has a thin rotation with Terry Henderson likely out until early 2016 nursing an injured ankle, and if the Martin twins are going to continue to produce like they did on Tuesday night the Wolfpack might be able to make it to conference play without suffering any more unexpected losses.

NC State’s depth issues and lack of offensive identity are a friendly reminder that Mark Gottfried expected to have both Trevor Lacey (late NBA declaration) and Kyle Washington (transfer to Cincinnati) back on this squad when last season ended. With Henderson sidelined, NC State is using the kind of tight seven-man rotation (one guard and one forward off the bench) you would expect to see in tournament time.

Up next for NC State is three straight home games before an eight-day break for exams. Winthrop and Bucknell are the bread of this PNC Arena sandwich with the ACC/Big Ten Challenge game against Michigan as the meat. Like LSU, Michigan is a team that expects to be playing in the NCAA Tournament so for NC State it’s is another great opportunity to get a quality win despite being shorthanded.

LSU plays College of Charleston and North Florida next week, with its next big game of significance coming on Dec. 29 against another ACC foe, Wake Forest.

Cat Barber led NC State with 20 points in an overtime win against LSU. (USATSI)

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