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Angel Reese’s success comes with caveat: LSU’s weak schedule

(Photo courtesy LSU Athletics)

Angel Reese recorded her eighth double-double Tuesday as LSU defeated Southeastern Louisiana to improve to 8-0 on the season.

Reese leads the country in double-doubles, just ahead of BYU’s Lauren Gustin, who has seven in her team’s seven games played. The 6-3 forward is also leading the country in rebounding with 14.8 per game, to go along with her team-leading 23.4 points per game.

Yet her success comes with a major caveat.

Reese is in her first season at LSU after transferring from Maryland. She played with the Terps for two years after joining them as the No. 2 recruit in the nation, behind just Paige Bueckers of UConn.

Led by their star transfer, the undefeated Tigers are ranked No. 11 in the country. LSU defeats its opponents by an average of 49.8 points per game, the highest margin of victory in the country.

But any discussion of Reese’s individual accomplishments and LSU’s team accolades must come with a qualification: strength of schedule.

The Tigers are rolling, but they’ve yet to play anyone of note. So far, they’ve faced Bellarmine, Mississippi Valley State, Western Carolina, Houston Christian, Northwestern State, George Mason, UAB and Southeastern Louisiana. 

The latest contest with SE Louisiana proved the closest of the season, as LSU won 63-55. Next up, the Tigers play Tulane on Dec. 4.

LSU has faced criticism for the weak schedule, with coach Kim Mulkey offering an explanation after a 100-45 win over Northwestern State on Nov. 20.

“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. 

Mulkey added that the schedule had been set prior to Reese’s decision to sign with LSU from the transfer portal.

Still, LSU doesn’t play a single ranked opponent during their nonconference slate. Their first (and as of now only) top-25 matchup will come against No. 1 South Carolina on Feb. 12.