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Kim Mulkey: LSU players lacked ‘leadership’ in season-opening loss

Kim Mulkey looks on during LSU's 92-78 season-opening loss to Colorado. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Kim Mulkey didn’t hold back after top-ranked LSU basketball lost its season opener to No. 20 Colorado, citing players’ lack of leadership in the 92-78 loss.

“I’m disappointed and surprised in some individual players that I thought would just be tougher and have a little fight and leadership about them,” Mulkey said. “But I knew what we faced. When you have that many kids that played that many minutes together [as Colorado], we had our hands full. Colorado did exactly what I thought they would do.”

Some of the Tigers issues are ones Mulkey can “live with,” such as poor shooting, which led to a “tough night offensively,” the head coach said.

“What I don’t live with is just guts and fight and physical play [not being there],” she continued. “You got that dog in you. I just didn’t think we had that tonight.”

LSU freshman Mikaylah Williams (17 points) and sophomore Sa’Myah Smith (16) led the team in scoring. The pair “did all they could,” according to Mulkey.

“You’re talking about a true freshman and a true sophomore. We need more than just them to have a little bit of fight,” she continued, noting that the team’s second line of defense was “nonexistent.” Still, she notes that these things are “fixable,” though she doesn’t know how long it will take.

“We’re not the same team today we were when we won it all,” she said. “I don’t know if anything that went on this summer [with new players transferring in] has anything whatsoever to do with [our] locker room. I think [our] locker room is affected by Colorado being a very good team.”

Angel Reese set an NCAA single-season record with 34 double-doubles last season, and she picked up where she left off, with 15 points and 12 rebounds. Star transfer Hailey Van Lith added 14 points and 7 assists, while fellow transfer Aneesah Morrow had 6 points and 4 rebounds.