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While the women's college basketball world saw LSU as an unbeatable super team heading into the 2023-24 season, that hype came crashing down after the top-ranked Tigers were crushed 92-78 by No. 20 Colorado in their season opener. It was only the first game of the season and LSU can still bounce back, but it was truly a humbling experience.

On paper, it was hard to argue against LSU being the best team in the nation. The reigning national champion Tigers returned star forward Angel Reese, while also adding prized Louisville transfer Hailey Van Lith and the No. 1 recruiting class of 2023. But just a few weeks before the season started, Kim Mulkey told CBS Sports "the most talented teams don't always win championships." 

And she is 100% correct. It doesn't matter how many stars you have if you are not playing hungry. As the No. 1 team in the nation, the Tigers should've known they had a target on their back and that every team was going to give them their best effort. 

Mulkey was approaching the preseason hype with caution, but even she was shocked at her team's performance on Monday.

"I'm disappointed and surprised in some individual players that I thought would just be tougher and have a little fight and leadership about them," Mulkey told reporters after the game. "But I knew what we faced. When you have that many kids that played that many minutes together [as Colorado], we had our hands full. Colorado did exactly what I thought they would do."

Colorado deserves much more credit 

It wasn't just LSU blowing this game; Colorado played hard and earned the win. After trailing by two following the first quarter, the Buffaloes took complete control of the game, leading by as many as 22 points at one point. Frida Formann knocked down seven 3-pointers and finished the night with 27 points along with five rebounds and five assists. Aaronette Vonleh contributed 24 points and six rebounds, while Jaylyn Sherrod added 19 points, eight rebounds and six assists.

Colorado had a huge advantage in transition, as they pushed the pace effectively to outscore LSU 28-9 in fast break points. The Buffaloes also moved the ball more efficiently than their opponents, registering 24 assists to LSU's 13. 

While a double-digit loss to a team ranked outside the top 10 will hurt LSU's ranking significantly next week, it's important to remember the Buffaloes play in a tough Pac-12 conference and are used to being tested by championship-level teams. This was not a fluke. Just last season Colorado reached the Sweet 16 for the first time in 20 years, and they have returned the key players who were responsible for that tournament run.

LSU's defense played below its standards 

The Tigers' offense started slow, as they shot 35% or worse through the first two quarters. But that is not what bothered Mulkey the most. It's unlikely Formann will be hitting seven 3-pointers every game, but it's clear the LSU defense underperformed. 

Last season the Tigers held opponents to just 57.9 points per game and contained Iowa -- the best offensive team in the nation -- to win the national title. LSU didn't bring that same intensity in its season opener: the 92 points Colorado registered were the most by any LSU opponent in the Mulkey era. 

"You live with poor shooting, you live with a tough night offensively," Mulkey said. "What I don't live with is just guts and fight and physical play [not being there]."

Reese registered a double-double of 15 points and 12 rebounds, but she had more personal fouls (4) than assists, blocks and steals combined. Flau'jae Johnson had just three points in 17 minutes, as she struggled to stay on the floor while dealing with her own foul trouble. 

The case for Tigers optimism 

LSU certainly has the talent, and Mulkey said the issues she saw on Monday are fixable, but she doesn't know how long it will take. The Tigers started last season 24-0, but Colorado is inarguably a tougher opponent than any the Tigers faced early in their 2022-23 campaign. 

LSU's strength of schedule was a big discussion point last season, particularly after the 2022 national champion South Carolina throttled them 88-64 in February. Many viewed the blowout loss as confirmation that LSU was not as strong of a team as its undefeated record suggested, but the Tigers proved everyone wrong by being the last team standing in the 2023 Women's NCAA Tournament. 

Losing to the Gamecocks last season seems to have shaken up the Tigers enough for them to compete harder against tougher opponents, so LSU could use Monday's loss as motivation too. 

Another motivational tactic at Mulkey's disposal is her team's depth. Mulkey told CBS Sports before the season that her team is deep enough to where playing time is guaranteed for no one, and LSU's reverses lived up to the hype by outscoring Colorado's bench 23-9. Perhaps that bench production will light a fire under the starters. 

A chance to right the ship 

LSU will be back on the court Thursday to host Queens. Their next biggest test will be on Nov. 30, when they take on No. 8 Virginia Tech at home, giving LSU a few weeks to figure out how to shake off the discouraging Colorado loss. 

"This is not going to devastate us," Mulkey said. "Chicken Little said the sun will come out tomorrow, didn't he?"

The cartoon character Mulkey referred to is more known for saying the sky was falling, but that's not necessarily what's happening with LSU. Sure, this was a bit of a scare for the Tigers, but sometimes we all need a wake-up call.