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Angel Reese returns to LSU ahead of Final Four rematch with Virginia Tech

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(Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Angel Reese will return to the lineup for LSU basketball after a four-game absence, head coach Kim Mulkey announced Wednesday.

The star senior last appeared on the court on Nov. 14. She played 14 minutes in the first half of the Tigers’ 109-79 win over Kent State, but she did not play at all in the second half due to what Mulkey called a “coach’s decision.”

She missed LSU’s next four games. Mulkey provided few details on Reese’s absence, though she did allude to “locker room issues” on Nov. 20.

“You always have to deal with locker room issues,” Mulkey said. “That’s just part of coaching. In 40 years, I can never think of a time where I didn’t have to deal with issues. That’s what coaches do. Sometimes y’all know about it and sometimes you don’t. Sometimes you want to know more than you’re entitled to know.

“I’m going to protect my players, always. They are more important. It’s like a family. If you do some disciplining of your own children, do you think we’re entitled to know that? That’s a family in that locker room.”

Mulkey remained similarly tight-lipped even as she revealed Reese’s return. She declined to disclose how long she has been practicing with the team, only saying: “It doesn’t matter. Angel is back, and we are happy, happy, happy.”

Reese returns just in time for No. 7 LSU’s game against No. 9 Virginia Tech, which is set to tip off at 9 p.m. ET Thursday on ESPN. The Tigers beat the Hokies, 79-72, in the 2023 Final Four en route to their first title in program history.

Yet while LSU will have Reese, they will be without sophomore forward Sa’Myah Smith, who will miss the rest of the season with tears to the ACL, MCL and meniscus in her right knee. Junior guard Kateri Poole also remains out for the Tigers. Poole has missed three games in a row, though the reason for her absence has not been disclosed.

Senior guard Hailey Van Lith is available for the game, but she is dealing with a foot injury, Mulkey said. The injury is one Van Lith has had for several years, but she aggravated it in LSU’s win over Virginia on Nov. 25.