“They hate to see greatness, but it is going to keep on coming,” LSU freshman Flau’jae Johnson rapped in her commitment video to LSU.
That’s a line from her song featuring Boosie and has been true about the 30-2 LSU Tigers all season.
Greatness. That is what the first 30-win season since 2008 is.
Greatness. That is what a 23-0 start is.
Greatness. That is what the fifth undefeated home record in program history is.
Greatness. That is what the first sweet 16 in nearly a decade is.
Greatness. That is what transfer Angel Reese is.
Reese has been phenomenal all year. She has 30 double-doubles on the season and saved two of her biggest for the NCAA tournament.
She put up 34 points and 15 rebounds in a 73-50 win against the Hawaii Rainbow Wahine (18-15) and then matched it with 25 points and 24 rebounds in a 66-42 win against the Michigan Wolverines (23-10) to carry LSU to the Sweet 16.
There were points against Michigan where Reese had more rebounds than their entire team. In the end she was just two rebounds behind the Wolverines.
Reese is averaging 29.5 points and 19.5 rebounds in the NCAA tournament. That is video game numbers. The Tiger bullied Michigan on the boards, finishing with a +20 advantage.
“I have a really good eye for the ball,” Reese said after the win against Michigan. “Rebounding is key. That’s what’s written on our board. We have to rebound and defend to win. As far as we go, we have to rebound and defend.”
The Tigers’ defense was also great. LSU held the Wolverines to a season low 15 points in the first half and stymied them all game. Michigan is used to playing top teams, three of the top 8 seeds are from the Big Ten, but none had stifled their offense quite as much as the Tigers.
“I think this is one of our best defensive games in a long time,” Reese said. “Especially on our home court.”
The PMAC witnessed this team’s greatness all season. The Tigers did not drop a game in the PMAC this year. It was redemption from a season that ended with a loss in the Round of 32 in that very venue.
This year the Tigers dance on.
“I think we had a lot of energy, so shout out to the fans, the students came back out and everybody else tonight,” Reese said. “They said it was only 10,000 people. But it felt like way more. It was fun.”
Reese has been helped in the paint all season by senior center LaDazhia Williams, who averaged over 9 points per game, and all-freshman SEC forward Sa’Myah Smith.
Williams quietly pulled out another double double for the Tigers in a 10 points and 10 rebounds game against the Wolverines.
“I love playing with LaDazhia,” Reese said. “She’s one of the best post players I’ve ever played with. I’m going to miss her when she leaves. Me and LaDazhia are opposites. She has really great footwork and her hands are great around the basket. I think we bring different things. I’m the loud outspoken person and LaDazhia is the quiet assassin. It’s a powerful duo.”
Outside the paint, Flau’jae and Alexis Morris have been lights out. Flau’jae was SEC freshman of the year and Morris was All-SEC. Both of them gave LSU double figures in LSU’s tournament games.
The other three guards senior Jasmine Carson and juniors Kateri Poole and Last-Tear Poa have helped LSU. All three of them hit from behind the arc throughout the weekend and Poole’s defense stifled Michigan.
“I trust in (Carson), Flau’jae, (Poole), Poa,” said Morris. We’re going to need all of our pieces, period. Nobody can come half-steppin, because you are only as strong as your weakest link.”
The Tigers road on will get tougher with 2 seed Utah on Friday, and more daunting tasks if they can win that one. LSU knows they can win.
“We’re just taking it one day at a time, but we’re very excited,” Williams said. “We’re ready to start preparing for the next game. And we’re just ready for whatever is ahead of us.”
After the season, whenever that ends, the Tigers will lose three starters – Morris, Carson, and Williams. It will be tough to replace each one of them.
Greatness, however, is going to keep on coming. The Tigers bring in the top ranked recruiting class, including the number one player in the country Mikaylah Williams along with three other top 100 recruits. Plus, they will have Flau’jae and Reese back.
To quote from Flau’jae’s song again:
“I am in the circle surrounded by winners, I cannot lose.”