Hoops Cruises Past Georgia Southern in Home Opener
Nov. 13, 2013
LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) -- Bernisha Pinkett's first 3-pointer reminded her that the shot was still there, just requiring more confidence in launching it. Judging from the 3s that followed, the Kentucky senior reserve guard appears to have found comfort zone.
Pinkett scored 19 points, leading six Wildcats in double figures as No. 7 Kentucky rolled to a 103-38 rout of Georgia Southern on Wednesday.
The 65-point margin ranks seventh all-time in Kentucky history; Kentucky's record for points and margin is a 121-44 throttling of Kentucky State on Nov. 24, 1989.
Pinkett posted her highest total since scoring 21 last Nov. 28 against Miami (Ohio).
"It felt pretty good," said Pinkett, who made 3 of 4 from 3-point range and 7 of 9 overall. "I hadn't been knocking down shots like I have been in the past, and coach (Matthew) Mitchell always had faith in me in the end as a shooter.
"Being able to go out there and actually see my 3s starting to fall, I felt pretty good about it."
Playing the morning home opener before about 2,000 enthusiastic sixth graders, the Wildcats (3-0) followed Sunday's 39-point win over Wagner with a 54-point second half against the overpowered Eagles (0-2).
Kentucky thrived on both ends, forcing 35 turnovers and shooting 51 percent to win its first meeting against the Southern Conference member.
Guard Angel McGowan shook off a second-half ankle injury to score 10 points for Georgia Southern, which shot just 26 percent.
"We respect them so much and the things that we had talked about doing, they did not allow us to do," Georgia Southern coach Chris Vozab said.
Kentucky dominated every category, including rebounding (49-35), points in the paint (54-18), fast- break points (22-4) and the bench (58-22). The Wildcats also dominated the Eagles in assists, 26-5; Evans and freshman Makayla Epps each had six.
"We were very mindful of our offensive execution," Mitchell said. "I didn't have to do a lot of talking there, they held themselves to a high standard and were really working hard and tried to do the things we were working on offensively.
"Defensively, what I was so impressed with was the five (Georgia Southern) assists. They couldn't really get the ball passed around very much because we were in such great stances and in good fundamental position on defense in passing lanes. It was a good effort."
Kentucky had finished well in weekend victories at Marist and Wagner to open the season, but Mitchell stressed the need to start better after trailing both opponents. On Wednesday, they looked fresh in completely overwhelming the Eagles despite the mid-morning start.
Kentucky led 10-0 and took a 49-13 advantage at halftime, tying a school record for scoring margin. The defense forced 19 turnovers, resulting in 23 points, and the team shot 49 percent.
Though the Wildcats ran by the Eagles often, they also showed patience by working the ball around before taking shots. Kentucky had several possessions where every player touched the ball before launching an attempt, racking up 11 first-half assists en route to its season high.
Epps said it was especially important to find Pinkett because she was effective, "so I knew she needed the ball in her hand and Azia (Bishop) was hitting shots too, so I knew they needed the ball in their hands."
The fast pace at both ends flustered Georgia Southern, which shot 13 of 50 overall and didn't record a first-half assist.
Also, Georgia Southern lost guard Alexis Sams to a right knee injury late in the first half. McGowan, a freshman who plays with a left knee brace, left briefly in the second half after injuring the ankle but returned to finish 4 of 7 from the field including 2 of 3 from beyond the arc.
Kentucky guard Janee Thompson left for several minutes after being poked in the eye on the Wildcats' first possession. She returned wearing goggles.