What happened to Angel Reese? LSU forward set to return after missing games, being benched by Kim Mulkey

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Angel Reese
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Just eight games into the season, the title defense of Angel Reese and the LSU Lady Tigers was off to a rocky start.

After opening the season with a loss to Colorado, LSU has been on a mission to get back on track but it hasn't been without difficulty. In LSU's fourth game of the season, Reese was benched for the second half. One game later, she was noticeably absent as her team prepared to face Southeastern Louisiana and did not play.

It was more of the same for LSU's matchups against Texas Southern, Niagara and Virginia — a four-game absence for the All-American.

Why was Angel Reese benched? And why wasn't she with the team for the last couple of games? Here is what we know about the star forward's absence.

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What happened to Angel Reese?

As LSU geared up to face Southeastern Louisiana on Friday, Nov. 17, Reese was not with the team as it exited the bus nor during its pregame warmups. LSU Rivals columnist Ron Higgins noted that head coach Kim Mulkey would address Reese's absence postgame.

After the Lady Tigers' 23-point win over Southeastern Lousiana, Mulkey kept her answer regarding Reese's absence quite simple:

"It's very obvious Angel was not in uniform. Angel is a part of this basketball team and we hope to see her sooner rather than later."

Reese was not in attendance for LSU's matchup against Texas Southern on Nov. 20, either. Mulkey was asked about Reese's absence again after the 106-47 blowout victory, but her answer didn't change. 

She also declined to say if Reese had been practicing with the team.

Mulkey's consistent and stern responses to any questions regarding Reese deflected the attention away from her absences for a moment.

After missing a total of four games — all victories over Southeastern Louisiana, Texas Southern, Niagara and Virginia — Mulkey announced Reese is set to return to the floor for LSU's battle with No. 9 Virginia Tech on Thursday, Nov. 30.

Why was Angel Reese benched?

Against Kent State, Reese had 11 points and five rebounds while seeing 13 minutes of action in the first half. LSU entered halftime with a two-point lead.

Out of the break, Reese was not on the floor to begin the second half and remained on the bench for the third and fourth quarters as LSU outscored Kent State by 28 points to earn a 109-79 win.

After the game, Mulkey offered very little on Reese's benching outside of acknowledging that it was a "coach's decision." There have been reports that Mulkey has taken issue with Reese's attitude.

Adding to the in-house turmoil is a social media feud between Reese's mother, Angel Reese Webb and Kia Brooks, mother of 2023 SEC Freshman of the Year, Flau'jae Johnson.

Reese reposted a final score graphic from the LSU women's basketball account after the Southeastern Louisiana game Friday, then added a cryptic post of her own Sunday morning, a day before the Tigers' next game against Texas Southern. 

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LSU Lady Tigers' basketball schedule 2023-24

With Reese set to return to the lineup, here are LSU's next five games where you can catch the All-American forward in action:

Date Opponent Time (ET) TV channel
Nov. 30 vs. #9 Virginia Tech 9 p.m. ESPN
Dec. 10 vs. Louisiana-Lafayette 3 p.m. SEC Network+
Dec. 12 vs. McNeese 8 p.m. SEC Network+
Dec. 17 vs. Northwestern State 3 p.m. SEC Network
Dec. 20 at Coppin State 6 p.m. ESPN+
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Gilbert McGregor is an NBA content producer for The Sporting News.