What's wrong with LSU, and why is the reigning champ struggling?

In the offseason, the reigning national champion LSU Tigers were predicted to be women's basketball's next superteam after a summer of success.

The Tigers earned the preseason No. 1 rating when coach Kim Mulkey added two transfer portal stars, Hailey Van Lith and Aneesah Morrow, to Final Four Most Outstanding Player Angel Reese and a strong recruiting class.

Early results in Baton Rouge have been mixed. On opening day of the 2023-24 season, LSU lost to then-No. 20 Colorado 92-78, becoming the first national champion to do so since 1995.

Tigers have scored 100+ points and won by at least 30 in each game since -- against Queens, Mississippi Valley State, and Kent State -- but their weaknesses have been more noticeable.

They led Kent State, which hadn't played in the NCAA tournament in almost 20 years, by two at halftime Tuesday and trailed early in the third quarter before a dramatic second-half surge, spearheaded by freshman Mikaylah Williams' excellent shooting.

Mulkey is focused on LSU's defense but also dealing with personnel difficulties.

Despite early chemistry and playing time issues, Reese was benched for the second half of the Kent State game, and Kateri Poole, who started LSU's championship run, did not finish. Mulkey blamed the absences on a "coach's decision."