Observations: LSU proves it has depth beyond Ben Simmons

Ben Simmons is all but a lock to be the No. 1 overall pick in June’s NBA Draft, but Tim Quarterman showed Tuesday against Kentucky that the Tigers have more in their arsenal than just Simmons.

The 6-foot-6 guard torched the Wildcats for 21 points to go with 10 rebounds and seven assists in a convincing 18-point win for LSU, who is now off to a 2-0 start in SEC play.

Johnny Jones finished last season with Quarterman as the Tigers’ point guard and while he’s taken a lesser role this year because of Simmons, he’s still more than capable of producing at a very high level.

Quarterman scored 14 or more points in five straight games for LSU between Nov. 23 and Dec. 13, but was in single digits in the Tigers’ next five tilts until Tuesday.

If this guy stays in college for another year, he’ll regularly be compared to somebody like Evan Turner because of his unique ability to effect the game in a plethora of ways.

Indiana is going to have to be able to grind out wins without James Blackmon

The Hoosiers are in a real hole now that star sophomore James Blackmon (15.8 points, 4.2 rebounds) is likely done for the season following surgery on his right knee.

The 6-4 guard was on his way to being an All-Big Ten player this season and gave Indiana the type of offensive ceiling that most teams would salivate for thanks to his ability to stretch the defense and blend with Troy Williams, Yogi Ferrell, and Thomas Bryant.

Without him in tow, the Hoosiers are going to have to alter their style and be able to grind out wins, just like they did last night against Wisconsin.

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Indiana’s 59-58 win on Tuesday night at Assembly Hall was far from pretty, but it showed that the Hoosiers can beat teams when they’re not clicking offensively.

Tom Crean proved last season that he’s very capable of adapting his team based on his personnel and he’ll no doubt do the same without Blackmon. Look for Crean to increase the roles of freshmen OG Anunoby (11 points against Wisconsin) and Juwan Morgan to augment Indiana’s physicality defensively as they prepare to face some of the better teams in the Big Ten.

The Hoosiers can’t be the same team as they were with Blackmon, but they can be a different team that wins in a different way.

How good can that team potentially be? That’s still to be determined.

Duke’s interior defense will be tested against Wake Forest:The Blue Devils haven’t been the same team since they lost Amile Jefferson to a foot injury in early December and their ability to defend around the rim will be severely tested Wednesday in Winston Salem.

Jefferson was Duke’s most valuable player and while his injury has allowed Brandon Ingram (21.2 points over his last five games) to explode statistically in his slide over to power forward, his absence opens the door for opponents to expose the Blue Devils inside.

Utah’s Jakob Poeltl (19 points, 14 rebounds) sliced up Duke’s defense in the paint when the two teams played on Dec. 19 at Madison Square Garden and the Demon Deacons will likely attempt to use that model Wednesday and feature Devin Thomas.

The 6-9 lefty is averaging career-highs in points (16.4 points), rebounds (10.2 rebounds), and field-goal percentage (56.8) all while anchoring Wake Forest’s attempt to become a relevant ACC program.

If Thomas gets going out of the gate, then Danny Manning’s squad has a real opportunity to get another quality victory.

The Demon Deacons have already won at LSU and beaten both UCLA and Indiana at the Maui Invitational in November.

This Just In

  • Seton Hall’s Desi Rodriguez (disciplinary reasons) will play Wednesday against Villanova, Kevin Willard told CBS Sports. Rodriguez was benched in the second half of Saturday’s win over DePaul.
Ben Simmons Tim Quartermen LSU Kentucky College Basketball (USATSI)
It’s not just the Ben Simmons show at LSU anymore. (USATSI)

This and That

  • Florida State is giving up 95.0 points in its first two ACC games and it’s not going to get any easier for the Seminoles moving forward. Leonard Hamilton’s team next travels to Miami and NC State back-to-back before returning home to play Virginia and then hitting the road again to face Louisville. Florida State is currently 0-2 in conference play.
  • Arizona’s Dusan Ristic is turning into a short range offensive specialist. The 7-footer is 23-for-32 from the field during his last five games and is nearly automatic when he gets the ball around the rim in the low post. Ristic isn’t near the defender that Kaleb Tarczewski is, but his offense is a going to be a major weapon to have in reserve as Pac-12 play progresses.
  • Oklahoma’s Isaiah Cousins is just 9-for-39 from the field and 3-of-14 from three-point range in his last three games. The Sooners took Kansas to triple overtime on Monday at Phog Allen Fieldhouse and Cousins managed just four points. Imagine what this team’s going to be like when this guy gets back on track? Several NBA scouts have told CBS Sports that Cousins has the tools to be a long-time pro because of his well-rounded game.
  • Gonzaga’s Domantas Sabonis is averaging 20.2 points and 11.6 rebounds in the 10 games since Przemek Karnowski has been sidelined with a back injury. With Karnowski now out for the season, look for Sabonis to be one of the more productive big men in the entire country. Mark Few’s squad is 12-3 overall.
  • UNLV is 1-3 in its last four games. One of the main reasons why? Patrick McCaw is averaging just 5.0 points during that span. The 6-7 sophomore started out the season as one of the better wing scorers in the country, but has cooled off significantly. McCaw is just 7-for-24 from the field in his last four games and 2-for-13 from three-point range. The Runnin’ Rebels will face Colorado State in Fort Collins on Wednesday. Tipoff is at 10 p.m. ET on CBS Sports Network.
  • There is no way to simulate West Virginia’s aggressiveness. The Mountaineers have taken 70 free throws and gotten 35 offensive rebounds in their first two Big 12 games. Bob Huggins’ squad is 13-1 overall and 2-0 in conference play heading into Saturday’s game against Oklahoma State in Morgantown.
  • Virginia Tech has beaten NC State and Virginia back-to-back without two of its projected starters — Ahmed Hill (patella) and Chris Clarke (foot). It’s only a matter of time before Buzz Williams has the Hokies in the top half of the ACC Standings. One big thing to remember about Virginia Tech is it only has one senior in its rotation and will return everyone of significance next season.
  • Eastern Kentucky’s Jarelle Reischel is the only player in college basketball to currently have 300 points, 100 assists, and 50 rebounds. The fifth-year transfer has found a home under first-year head coach Dan McHale and is averaging 20.0 points, 7.9 rebounds, 3.9 assists, and 2.1 steals while shooting 53.1 percent from the field, 84.3 percent from the free throw line, and 47.9 percent from three-point range. The Colonels are 10-6 overall.
  • What’s the biggest differences that Frank Martin has found coaching at South Carolina versus when he was at Kansas State? Find out here on this week’s edition of the College Hoops Today podcast.

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