Keys to success: SEC’s best freshmen face off in Kentucky-LSU game

Ben Simmons faces Kentucky for the first time on Tuesday night. (USATSI)

Perhaps you are familiar with DJ Khaled’s keys to success, if not then you can easily become accustomed to the concept as we break down the keys to winning a big-time college basketball game. On Tuesday night, it’s Kentucky heading to Baton Rouge to face LSU in a star-studded nationally televised contest.

Nothing will fire up the hype for a midseason college basketball game quite like the presence of highly touted freshman. On Tuesday night when Kentucky and LSU play in Baton Rouge, five of the top 16 players from the Class of 2015 (No. 1 Ben Simmons, No. 2 Skal Labissiere, No. 10 Jamal Murray, No. 12 Isaiah Briscoe, No. 16 Antonio Blakeney) will be in action.

For LSU, the spotlight on Simmons is deserved. He’s the team’s leader in points (20.5), rebounds (13.1), assists (5.4), steals (2.1), blocks (1.4) and is shooting 57.4 percent from the field. At 8-5 with losses to College of Charleston and Marquette, LSU is already trying to make up for a slow start in hopes of returning to the NCAA Tournament and allowing Simmons to lead the Tigers on the game’s biggest stage. SEC play started well with a win at Vanderbilt, but there is very little room for error moving forward.

While Jamal Murray and Isaiah Briscoe have been great in stretches for Kentucky, Labissiere, the player with arguably the most hype outside of Simmons, has been working to find a solid role in the rotation coming off the bench.

Many expected to be seeing Skal or Murray rounding into form as SEC play was starting, but it’s actually been sophomore Tyler Ulis and junior Marcus Lee that have emerged recently as the most consistent performers on Kentucky’s deep rotation. Against Ole Miss, Ulis became the first player in school history to record at least 20 points, 10 assists and six steals in win vs. Ole Miss. Lee is currently shooting 74.4 percent over his last seven games and had 13 points and eight rebounds in the win against Ole Miss.

So now we get to the keys. Bless up.

Ben Simmons needs to be active, aggressive and efficient

Simmons enters Tuesday night’s contest coming off one of his best offensive performances of the season, going for 36 points, 14 rebounds and four assists (10-for-14 field goals, 16-for-19 field goals) in LSU’s 90-82 win at Vanderbilt. LSU’s kryptonite on offensive this season is wasted possessions and you simply cannot give away opportunities against a Kentucky team that thrives on efficiency turning your mistakes into easy buckets.