LSU head coach Kim Mulkey has confirmed that Angel Reese will play in the Tigers’ top-ten matchup against No. 9 Virginia Tech on Thursday. Mulkey confirmed Reese’s return on Wednesday but declined to say if Reese would start or play off the bench. Around the same time as Mulkey’s comments, Reese posted a picture inside LSU’s basketball arena to her Instagram story. Reese has not played since being benched at half-time against Kent State on November 14. Reese has subsequently missed the team’s next four games, including a Thanksgiving Week tournament in the Cayman Islands. The Tigers are 4-0 without Reese, although the NET ranking of their opponents in those games sat at an average of 202nd. However, the Tigers barely survived Virginia (53rd in NET ranking), beating the Cavaliers 76-73.
7-1, the Tigers are jointly ranked at No. 7 in the latest AP Poll, tied with Colorado, who beat LSU in their season opener. The Buffs fell from No. 3 after losing to then-No. 10 NC State in a Thanksgiving tournament in the US Virgin Islands. The Tigers have enjoyed a tame non-conference schedule following the ranked clash in Vegas against Colorado. However, their mettle will be tested by the Hokies, who are once against shaping up to be the best team in the ACC.
LSU Eye Final Four Rematch
LSU HC Kim Mulkey says Angel Reese will be back with the team and will play Thursday night pic.twitter.com/nQYDz8msxh
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) November 29, 2023
Furthermore, the game against Virginia Tech is a rematch of the 2023 Final Four. That win in Dallas secured LSU a place in the National Championship Game. Both teams have undergone some restructuring since then. Notably, the Tigers added two superstar transfers and the NCAA’s best recruiting class. However, the Hokies still have reigning ACC Player of the Year Elizabeth Kitley, who is averaging 24.3 points and 11.3 rebounds through six games.
The Hokies are 5-1. The only blemish on their record is a loss to then-No. 3 Iowa in their second game of the year. However, the Hokies have struggled in recent games. They beat Kansas by one after coming from behind and playing lockdown defense for nearly three minutes. Furthermore, they only beat Tulane by six. By comparison, Virginia beat Tulane by more than 20 just a few days before. However, the combination of Kitley and Georgia Amoore (17 points, 8.3 assists per game) could spell trouble for an LSU team still trying to find its footing.