NEW YORK (AP) — If there was anything Ben Simmons would have changed about Monday night, it would have been his defense.
The super freshman collected 21 points and 20 rebounds for his third double-double in front of 51 NBA scouts but the 22nd-ranked Tigers led for only 10 seconds during an 81-80 loss to Marquette in the semifinals of the Legends Classic.
The Tigers (3-1) shot 37 percent from the floor, gave up the game's first 10 points and will face Arizona State or North Carolina State in the consolation game.
"I think I let Marquette score too much," Simmons said. "It was too easy for them inside the post. That was the main thing for me."
The Australian had a number of notable plays, though. He shot 6 of 14 from the floor and his final points gave LSU its only lead, 80-79, with 21.5 seconds remaining.
"A very difficult matchup," Marquette coach Steve Wojciechowski said. "Obviously he's a very unique player. He's a very talented player because of his size and athleticism and his ability to handle the ball. He's a unique matchup but I thought overall our guys did a good job against him."
Simmons' reverse layup gave the Tigers for about 10 seconds. On the next possession Jajuan Johnson knocked down the winning free throws and Simmons was unable to get a final shot off as he opted to pass and Jalyn Patterson missed a 3-pointer with three seconds left.
"I came down and looked at the paint and saw a defender on my left and right," Simmons said. "They did a great job on defense making sure I couldn't get to the rim."
Tim Quarterman added 20 points and Antonio Blankeney finished with 14.
"We know the potential," LSU coach Johnny Jones said. "We know how good Ben is and what he is capable of providing for this team. As a team we cannot ask him to put up these kinds of numbers night in and night out."
While it was a disappointing ending for LSU, Marquette rebounded from a blowout home loss to Iowa on Thursday.
Luke Fischer led four players in double figures with 19 points for Marquette (2-2), which shot 54 percent and scored the game's first 10 points. Henry Ellenson was among three Golden Eagles with 16 points along with Johnson and Duane Wilson.
"It's about how we came out at the end," Fischer said. "We were able to get the ball inside to me and Henry and that helped us a lot. When we get the ball inside, we're able to kick it out and good things happen when you do that."
LSU: Center Elbert Robinson III played although he sprained his left ankle in the second half of Thursday's win over South Alabama. He barely played as a freshman, appearing in only four games but is averaging eight points and four rebounds through three games. ... Simmons is not the only Australian on the roster. Center Darcy Malone is from Canberra and has international experience playing for his country.
Marquette: Faced LSU for the fourth time. The last two were home games while the first was in the 1970 NIT semifinals at Madison Square Garden. The Golden Eagles won that game by 21 and beat St. John's for the 1970 NIT championship. ... Johnson suffered a bloody nose when he got fouled on a layup with 15:10 remaining and was unable to take the free throw. He returned about two minutes later.
LSU: Faces loser of Arizona State-North Carolina State on Tuesday.
Marquette: Faces winner of Arizona State-North Carolina State on Tuesday.
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Posted on Tue, November 24, 2015
by LARRY FLEISHER, Associated Press