Daily Word: How will Kentucky defend LSU's Simmons?

Each weekday, our college hoops experts discuss the biggest issues, trends and themes in college basketball.

1. Who, if anybody on Kentucky's roster, can defend LSU's Ben Simmons?

Andy Katz: The Wildcats will need to use a variety of options. Kentucky coach John Calipari was discussing guarding Simmons at SEC media day and wondered how he might get it done. Marcus Lee and Alex Poythress will likely take a turn.

C.L. Brown: My guess is Isaiah Briscoe could get a crack at Simmons in addition to Poythress. Simmons would take Lee to the perimeter and drive past him every time. Should Briscoe get the assignment, it could be interesting because Simmons doesn't post up much (only 19 percent of his points have come from post-ups according to Synergy Sports Tech) and he doesn't have the best jump shot.

John Gasaway: Simmons is LSU's leading scorer, but a good deal of his value to the Tiger offense is generated off of his assists and offensive boards. It's not simply a matter of defending him when he has the ball in a set offense, and, anyway, he's an non-traditional player for this kind of discussion in that he's made just one 3 all season. Poythress can probably stay in front of Simmons a good deal of the time, but that won't necessarily mean he's been "stopped."

2. What did LSU do against Vanderbilt that gives the Tigers hope that things are turning around? And do you believe LSU can turn it around after struggling so much thus far?

Katz: LSU coach Johnny Jones said this team was young and not whole. They are now with the additions of Craig Victor II and Keith Hornsby.

Brown: In addition to relying more on experienced players like Victor and Hornsby, LSU coach Johnny Jones trimmed the rotation down. It's led to more continuity on the floor. Selfishly, I would like to see Simmons play in the NCAA tournament come March, but I believe the damage is already done. LSU is playing better than it was earlier in the season, but I'm not sure it's capable of producing the turnaround that would be needed to earn a bid.

Gasaway: LSU scored in the paint and got to the line against the Commodores. Naturally it was Simmons leading the way on both fronts, including a 16 of 19 performance on free throws. Then again if I'm Johnny Jones, I'm more concerned about the Tiger defense -- any turnaround will have to include improvement on both sides of the ball.

3. Who wins? Why?

Katz: LSU. The Tigers embraced the moment to beat Vanderbilt on the road. This is their season-changing game. Win this, and the Tigers can be on their way to a tournament bid.

Brown: As tempting as it is to be swayed by the Tigers' win at Vanderbilt and pick an upset, Kentucky still wins this game. Tyler Ulis was coming off an injury in the Wildcats' 87-77 loss at UCLA, their only true road game thus far. He is Kentucky's bona fide leader now and won't allow them to get rattled.

Gasaway: Simmons has a big night, but Kentucky wins a close one, because Ulis and Jamal Murray are going to be able to score against this LSU defense.