LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Kyra Elzy didn’t want her team to become complacent.
The Kentucky interim coach challenged the ninth-ranked Wildcats to sharpen their offensive skills and her squad did just that in an 88-54 win over Samford on Sunday.
“If we’re going to play team basketball, we have to share the basketball and we’re not just going to take good shots, we’re going to take great shots,” said Elzy, whose team dished out 23 assists and shot 51% from the field. “Today, we did execute, we made the extra pass (and) I am ecstatic how we shot the ball.”
Point guard Chasity Patterson took Elzy’s challenge to heart. She led the Wildcats with 16 points — 13 in the second half — and sank a pair of 3-pointers. Patterson also had seven steals and four assists.
“My mindset is to force turnovers and to make it easier or my team to score,” Patterson said. “When I step on the court, I’m competing.”
Elzy praised Patterson’s performance.
“She fits our system, pushing the ball up-tempo and the the speed that she has is extremely dangerous,” Elzy said. “On top (of that), she can score at all three levels. She can get to the rim, finish, shoot the mid-range and knock down the 3. You have to play (against her) honestly.”
The Wildcats closed out a three-game homestead with two straight blowouts. The run of home games began with a thrilling 72-68 triumph over No. 16 Indiana on Dec. 6.
Dre’Una Edwards finished with 15 points, Rhyne Howard scored 14 points and Blair Green had 10 for Kentucky.
Andrea Cournoyer led the Lady Bulldogs (1-5) with 14 points.
Edwards scored 15 points on 7-of-9 shooting in the first half to set the tone early for the Wildcats.
Kentucky got most of its offense in transition and scored 32 points off 21 Samford turnovers, including 15 in the first half.
Howard connected on two of the Wildcats’ six 3-pointers in the first half and scored 10 points to go along with five assists. Kentucky led 50-31 at the half.
The Wildcats began the second half with consecutive 3-pointers by Green, Howard and Patterson to push ahead 59-31.
“We’re starting to build more chemistry as a team,” Howard said. “We’re are starting to know what kind of shots everyone is looking for and what kind of shots they like to take. We’re making sure that we’re finding them. (Opponents) are not focusing on just one player like they have in the past.”
Samford: The Bulldogs began a five-game road trip after defeating North Alabama for their first win of the season. Samford, which made eight 3-pointers in the win over North Alabama, went 5 of 21 from long range against Kentucky.
Kentucky: The Wildcats improved to 18-1 against teams from the Southern Conference, including a 4-0 mark against Samford. Kentucky plays two more nonconference games before taking on No. 13 Arkansas on New Year’s Eve. Sophomore guard Emma King missed her second straight game because of COVID-19 protocols.
Samford: At Jacksonville State on Wednesday.
Kentucky: At No. 24 DePaul on Wednesday.
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