LSU’s Ben Simmons scores more weekly honors from the SEC; Tigers’ NCAA tournament projections get a boost _lowres

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- LSU forward Ben Simmons (25) drives past Mississippi State forward Aric Holman (35), Saturday, February 6, 2016, at LSU's PMAC in Baton Rouge, La.

For the sixth time this season, a member of LSU’s third-ranked 2015 recruiting class was honored by the Southeastern Conference on Monday.

Forward Ben Simmons was named SEC Freshman of the Week for the fourth time to go with the player of the week award he won Dec. 7.

Simmons averaged 18.5 points, 11.0 rebounds and 7.0 assists in blowout wins of Auburn and Mississippi State. He also shot 61.5 percent from the field, connecting on 16-of-26 shots.

Simmons also won SEC freshman of the week honors Nov. 23, Jan. 4 and Jan. 18, while teammate Antonio Blakeney shared the rookie honor for Nov. 16 with Kentucky’s Skal Labissiere.

Going for 30

A check of the record books by the LSU sports information department showed Blakeney became the sixth freshman to have 30 points in a game since first-year players became eligible in 1972.

In pouring in 31 points in Saturday’s 88-77 rout of Mississippi State, Blakeney joined a list that also includes Simmons, who had 43 points against North Florida (Dec. 2) and 36 at Vanderbilt (Jan. 2).

Other members of LSU’s freshman 30-point club are Rudy Macklin, DeWayne Scales, Ronnie Henderson and Chris Jackson, who did it an incredible 13 times in the 1988-89 season.

All Ben, all the time

ESPN’s crush on Simmons has reached a new level.

During its telecast Saturday, ESPN kept one of its cameras trained on the Tigers star the entire game.

“It surprises me,” said Simmons, who didn’t know about the camera beforehand, “but so much has happened in the last six months.”

Coach Johnny Jones said Monday he wasn’t aware of the “Ben Cam” until he watched a replay of the game.

“They had one on Kent, too,” Jones said facetiously, referring to long-time sports information director Kent Lowe.

Bracketology

After two weeks on the NCAA tournament bracket of ESPN.com’s Joe Lunardi, LSU has landed on the bracket of CBSSports.com’s Jerry Palm.

Lunardi kept LSU as a No. 10 seed in the South region against Wichita State, while Palm put the Tigers in the South as a No. 12 seed against No. 5 USC.

Palm didn’t seem thrilled about having LSU on his bracket — citing the Tigers’ official NCAA RPI of 76. He labeled the Tigers a “bid-stealer” and wrote they have a “borderline at-large profile at best. … But LSU has a one-game lead in the conference race, so there they are.”

The polls

LSU, which fell out of the AP and USA Today coaches rankings Nov. 30 following losses to Marquette and North Carolina State in the Legends Classic, was among the teams receiving votes in both polls Monday.

LSU picked up 10 points in the AP poll, which puts it 33rd. The Tigers received five points in the coaches poll, which put it 37th.

Tipoff luncheon

Jones will host his next-to-last Tipoff Luncheon of the season Tuesday at the L’Auberge Casino Resort with former LSU player and current radio analyst Ricky Blanton the featured speaker.

Lunch is served starting at 11:30 a.m., and the program begins around 12:10 p.m. Cost is $14.99 per person.

The Advocate’s Scott Rabalais contributed.