Mulkey on absent Reese: Hope to see her soon

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LSU forward Angel Reese, the Most Outstanding Player of the 2023 women’s NCAA tournament, was not with the team Friday night as the Tigers faced Southeastern Louisiana on the road.

“Angel was not in uniform. Angel is a part of this basketball team, and we hope to see her sooner than later,” LSU coach Kim Mulkey said after her team’s 73-50 win.

When a reporter started to ask a follow-up question, Mulkey cut in, “I’m not gonna answer any more, that’s it, that’s all you need to know.”

Reese’s absence Friday comes after she was benched in the second half of the Tigers’ previous game Tuesday against Kent State, in what Mulkey referred to at the time as a “coach’s decision.” Mulkey cited the same rationale for why another veteran, Kateri Poole, did not play Tuesday.

When asked Thursday whether Poole would play and Reese would start Friday against Southeastern Louisiana, Mulkey responded, “You better get a ticket and see.”

Reese, in her second season with the Tigers after beginning her career at Maryland, is averaging 17.0 points and 10.3 rebounds in four games.

Last season, she helped LSU return to relevance for the first time in years, averaging 23.0 points and 15.4 rebounds while compiling an NCAA single-season record 34 double-doubles as she led the Tigers to their first Final Four since 2008 and first-ever national title.

After winning the championship, LSU brought in two big names in the transfer portal, Hailey Van Lith and Aneesah Morrow, as well as the top-ranked recruiting class, spurring expectation that the Tigers would be well-poised to run it back in 2023-24. The preseason No. 1 Tigers dropped their season opener to Colorado, 92-78, before beating their next three opponents by at least 30 points.

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