Ben Simmons Benched by LSU vs. Tennessee for Academic Reasons

Alec NathanFeatured ColumnistFebruary 20, 2016

Feb 17, 2016; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; LSU Tigers forward Ben Simmons (25) reacts late during the second half of a game against the Alabama Crimson Tide at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center. Alabama defeated LSU 76-69. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

LSU Tigers freshman forward Ben Simmons was benched for the first four minutes, 30 seconds of his team's game against the Tennessee Volunteers on Saturday afternoon for academic reasons, according to ESPN's Sarah Hart.

"Academic matter, there are some academic things he needs to take care of," LSU head coach Johnny Jones said on the ESPNU broadcast, per DraftExpress' Jonathan Givony. "This is how we're dealing with it"

While the punishment was hardly severe, it should serve as a wake-up call for Simmons as the Tigers try to scratch their way into the NCAA tournament. 

Simmons has been the lifeblood of LSU all season long, but his heroics have been able to carry the team only so far.

During a standout freshman season that's seen him average 19.3 points, 12.0 rebounds and 5.1 assists per game prior to Saturday, the phenom has helped lift LSU to wins over the likes of Kentucky and Texas A&M while pushing previously top-ranked Oklahoma in a tight two-point contest.

That said, LSU has some ugly losses on its resume—including defeats at the hands of Alabama, Wake Forest and Houston. 

Considering the Tigers have struggled to gain any semblance of consistency in the win column with Simmons active, it's hard to imagine what would happen if he were to be punished further. 

For Simmons' sake and the program's, hopefully Saturday served as a minor shock to his system.