Angel Reese's 22 points, 14 rebounds lead No. 9 LSU past Kentucky 77-56


No. 9 LSU's Reese, Van Lith shine vs. UK on Senior Day

With dominant performances by Angel Reese (22 points, 14 rebounds) and Hailey Van Lith (15 points), the Tigers defeat Kentucky, 77-56, to end the regular season.

BATON ROUGE, La. -- — LSU star forward Angel Reese, who has some major life and career decisions looming, insists she's “just trying to focus on the now and just enjoy the moment.”

On Sunday, she played like it.

Reese had 22 points, 14 rebounds, five blocks and three steals in what might have been her final regular-season game for LSU, and the ninth-ranked Tigers defeated reeling Kentucky 77-56.

The performance suggested that Reese is rounding back into form after early season drama that included a four-game suspension and a relative dip in production while she adjusted to playing along a significant influx of veteran and freshman talent.

“Being able to be a leader on this team, I've got to be in 40-minute shape,” Reese said. “I feel like I'm in a better place right now, being able to be in shape ... and play defense and be there for my teammates.”

Flau'Jae Johnson had 21 points, four steals and four assists, with highlights that included a crowd-pleasing, behind-the-back pass to Hailey Van Lith to finish a fast break during a decisive second-half surge.

Aneesah Morrow had 15 points and 10 rebounds, and Van Lith finished with 15 points for LSU (26-4, 13-3 SEC), which won its eighth straight game — seven by 15 or more points — to finish the regular season.

Still, coach Kim Mulkey wasn't entirely pleased with her team, which appeared to be outhustled at times and had bouts of sloppiness while committing 14 turnovers.

“I felt like we played the entire game like we could not be beat, and I don't like coaching kids like that,” Mulkey said. “It goes back and forth and that kind of basketball will get you beat down the stretch.”

Ajae Petty had 13 points and 15 rebounds for Kentucky (11-19, 4-12), which lost for the ninth time in 11 games. Saniah Tyler and Amiya Jenkins each scored 14 for the Wildcats.

“We had lot of fight in us and we needed it,” Kentucky coach Kyra Elzy said. “There’s a lot of talent in Baton Rouge. ... I'm sure they'll have a great (postseason) run.”

Johnson helped spark LSU to a first-half lead as large as 17 points with a steal and difficult scoop shot over several defenders to finish a fast break. Van Lith's fast-break layup made it 31-14, but Kentucky closed the second quarter on a 13-2 run, sparked by Tyler's jumper and 3-pointer.

Maddie Scherr's 3 cut it to 33-27 at halftime. The Tigers rebuilt their lead in the third quarter with an 11-0 run, capped by Johnson's steal and fast-break layup to make it 50-31.

Kentucky got no closer than 11 points after that.

“We laid down and got complacent, let the crowd — everything going on — not really have us focused on the main thing,” Reese said of Kentucky's late first-half run. “It seemed at one point it meant more to them than it did us — and then we changed it around.”


Kentucky: The game at LSU capped off a difficult end to the regular season for Kentucky, which arrived in Baton Rouge after losses to No. 1 South Carolina on Feb. 25 and last weekend to Mississippi, which finished the regular season in third place in the SEC. The Wildcats haven't defeated the Tigers since the quarterfinal round of the 2022 SEC tournament and haven't won in Baton Rouge since 2019.

LSU: Reese now has 20 double-doubles and Morrow has 18. The Tigers won comfortably despite playing without starting guard Mikaylah Williams, who has averaged 14.9 points. Williams, a freshman, had been ruled out because of a nagging foot injury after playing in all 29 of LSU's previous games this season.

Mulkey said Williams could have played but was rested out of caution and could even get more rest during SEC tournament play if needed to maximize her health for the NCAA Tournament.


Both teams head to Greenville, South Carolina, for the SEC tournament, which opens on Wednesday. Kentucky, a No. 12 seed, will play in a first-round game on Wednesday. LSU will open conference tournament play in the quarterfinals on Friday after getting a double-bye as the No. 2 seed.


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