KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Saturday’s men’s basketball game between LSU and Tennessee took a strange twist Saturday when the top scorer from each team — Ben Simmons and Kevin Punter — were not in the starting lineup.
Simmons played the Alabama game Wednesday with a bandage on his left ring finger, but it wasn’t known whether that’s the reason he didn’t start. Coach Johnny Jones said Thursday that Simmons hurt the finger late in the South Carolina game or in the game with Texas A&M last Saturday.
Simmons entered the game at the 15:30 mark of the first half.
Simmons, who started the first 26 games and is the team’s leader with 19.3 points and 12.0 rebounds, went through pregame warm-ups as usual. He was replaced in the starting lineup by junior forward Brian Bridgewater.
Punter, who averages 22.2 points, 3.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists, will be a spectator for the entire game.
Punter, who played 33 minutes against Kentucky on Thursday despite a sore right ankle, came out late for pregame warm-ups with a walking boot on his right foot. He also wore a white T-shirt and did not have a jersey on.
Punter is the second-leading scorer in the SEC behind Ole Miss guard Stefan Moody, who went into Saturday with Auburn averaging 22.8 points.
Punter accounts for 29.1 percent of Tennessee’s 76.2 points this season and is averaging almost twice as many points as the Vols’ next scorer. Forward Armani Moore gets 11.6 points per game.
Robert Hubbs, who averages 10.8 points, started in place of Punter.