November 30, 2023
Angel Reese returns to play for LSU Tigers after missing four games
Poole still absent; Smith out for the season
“It’s a boost having her back,” Mulkey said. “She’s a tremendous player, one of the best in the country. She gives us a good matchup with [Elizabeth] Kitley, but it’s not just for this game — it’s for the rest of the season.”
Reese, who led the Tigers to their first-ever national championship and won the NCAA Most Outstanding Player award in April, has not played for the team since she was benched in the second half of the game between LSU and Kent State, which the Tigers took the victory on Nov. 14.
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Reese also did not travel with the team when they participated in the Cayman Islands Classic that took place last week. She’s played four games for the Tigers, averaging 17.0 points and 10.3 rebounds per game this season.
“I’ll say it again. Angel [Reese] was not in uniform tonight,” Mulkey told reporters on Nov. 20. “Angel is a part of this basketball team. And Angel will be back sooner rather than later.”
Reese addressed rumors circulating on social media and tweeted on Nov. 19, “Please don’t believe everything you read.”
Junior guard Kateri Poole did not travel with the team to the Cayman Islands Classic Tournament and is not in the transfer portal, according to our own Mitchell Northam. During LSU’s NCAA championship run, she played a crucial role in the Tigers’ victory over the Iowa Hawkeyes.
Mulkey did not provide an update on Poole’s return to the Tigers in the press conference, stating that “Kateri’s not [back].”
LSU also announced that sophomore forward Sa’Myah Smith would miss the remainder of the 2023-24 season after suffering a right knee injury, which she tore her ACL, MCL, and meniscus. The injury occurred in the first five minutes of the Tigers’ win over Niagara in the Cayman Islands Classic tournament.
The team announced that her surgery to repair her right knee will be scheduled at a later date, and that she is expected to regain her year of eligibility.
“It’s just so sad for her, because she’s improved by leaps and bounds,” Mulkey said. “Angel being back kind of helps, but there’s no substitute for the value of Sa’Myah and what she’s meant.”
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Smith played 36 games for the Tigers last season, averaging 4.6 points and 4.0 rebounds, and had 38 blocks, and became a member of the SEC All-Freshman Team. In addition, she demonstrated her ability to develop into a top-tier defender in the post.
The No. 7 LSU Tigers will face the No. 9 Virginia Tech Hokies in a rematch from the 2023 Final Four on Thursday night.
Written by Aya Abdeen
Aya Abdeen is a student in sports journalism at Arizona State University and has been a contributing writer for The Next Hoops since December 2022. Her work has also appeared on AZPreps365.