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Kim Mulkey explains LSU’s weak non-conference schedule

LSU basketball coach Kim Mulkey led the Baylor program for 21 seasons before departing in 2021. (Andrew Wevers/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

LSU is one triple-digit win away from tying the all-time NCAA women’s basketball record for consecutive 100-plus-point games, starting off their season with five blowout wins.

But the No. 12 Tigers have also gone up against mid-major teams that have not given them much of a challenge, compared to other teams’ early non-conference schedules in the top 25.

LSU has scored 544 total points in wins over Bellarmine, Mississippi Valley State, Western Carolina, Houston Baptist and Northwestern State. Meanwhile, teams like No. 23 Tennessee (2-4) and No. 19 Texas (2-3) packed multiple ranked opponents into their early slates. The Tigers won’t play a top-25 team until Jan. 30, when they host Tennessee.

LSU second-year coach Kim Mulkey attributed the soft schedule to managing team expectations.

“We inherited a program that won nine basketball games (in 2020-21), and if you think I am going to over-schedule before I know what I have, that would be a terrible mistake,” Mulkey told reporters Sunday, according to

LSU advanced to the second round of the 2022 NCAA Tournament after going 26-6 in Mulkey’s first season at the helm. After losing a number of seniors to graduation, Mulkey loaded up her roster with star transfers in the summer, but she said the non-conference schedule was set before those players were all known. Angel Reese, a sophomore transfer from Maryland, is currently leading the team with 23.2 points, 15.6 rebounds, two blocks and 2.6 steals per game.

“The good thing is we’re building confidence, making mistakes that can be corrected when the SEC does roll around,” Mulkey said.

“The non-conference schedule was done long before we had Angel Reese and all these transfers coming in … we are on the phone now to improve the non-conference schedule.”

LSU begins SEC play in late December, with its toughest test coming on the road against No. 1 South Carolina on Feb. 12. The results of those games, as well as the SEC tournament in March, will be key in determining the Tigers’ NCAA Tournament fate.