HARTFORD, Conn. -- Katie Lou Samuelson will let her game speak for her.
When it comes to dealing with her injured left ankle on a day-to-day, game-by-game basis, silence is golden for the University of Connecticut women's basketball team's All-American junior.
"I don't even ask her about it," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said Saturday. "It is what it is. Until she comes in and says, 'I've got a problem with it,' we move on. She knows that it's not going to be 100 percent and she plays through it."
Since aggravating the ankle injury on Jan. 18 against Tulsa then sitting out against Temple three days later, Samuelson has played at not just an All-American level but a national Player of the Year level.
She was on top of her game Saturday with 22 points and nine assists as the top-ranked Huskies routed Wichita State 124-43 in American Athletic Conference action at the XL Center.
"I think I've been in a pretty good groove," Samuelson said. "This year I've been trying to contribute in any way that I can. We have so many options on our team to go to that I've been trying to get people the ball where they can score whenever they can. That is one of the big reasons for me making passes like I did today. I'm just trying to get the ball to people in good spots."
The Huntington Beach, California, native had six assists in the opening 10 minutes as UConn tied a school record for most points in a quarter with 41. By the time it was over, the Huskies (24-0 overall, 12-0 AAC) had the second-most points in program history and the second-largest margin of victory. It was also their 87th consecutive win against a first-time opponent dating back to a loss to Georgia on Jan. 15, 1996.
All-American Napheesa Collier had a game-high 26 points on 11-for-13 shooting for UConn, but one of her misses came when she took a Samuelson pass and hit the bottom of the rim on a layup. A conversion would have given Samuelson her first double-double.
"She just wanted to sabotage me today," Samuelson said with a laugh.
With the lopsided score, Samuelson did her damage in just 25 minutes. She was 6-for-8 from 3-point land and, depending on the rest of the action from around the country, could end the day as the nation's leader in 3-point percentage at 47.8.
Her fourth trey Saturday made her the eighth UConn player to make 250 and also gave her the family record as her older sister, Karlie, finished her Stanford career last March with 249 threes.
"That's something I can rub in her face today," Samuelson said with a smile. "That's one accomplishment."
In 19 games -- she missed four in November with a left foot sprain, Samuelson is averaging 17.6 points (shooting 52.8 percent from the floor and 79.0 percent from the foul line), 4.3 rebounds, 3.7 assists with an assist-to-turnover ratio of 3.0, and 1.4 steals. She could reach 1,500 points for her career -- she needs 11 -- when UConn entertains No. 4 Louisville at Gampel Pavilion Monday night. Her game has never been better.
But Auriemma is trying to limit her minutes somewhat due to the ankle injury. She has topped 26 minutes in two of the last six games. She came out for the first and only time against Central Florida last Wednesday with 2:12 to go and it showed.
"Lou's showing a lot of maturity and a lot of competitiveness right now," said UConn All-American Gabby Williams, who, herself, is playing through a hip issue. "It would be easy for her to blame everything on her injury. It would be easy to go, 'I can't do this because my ankle hurts.' It's easy to get lazy and just give up. She goes harder. It shows how she's grown. She's a leader and she's showing our younger guys by example, 'Whatever happens to you, you play your way through it.'
"We realize that we have a limited time here. You only have four years, so what will be your legacy? What will be your identity? What are people going to remember about you? Are they going to remember you were injured, or how you were able to play and fought through it? It's what you do."
It's not something she hasn't done before. Her first major problem with her left ankle came on the final day of the 2014 United States national team U-17 trials in Colorado Springs. Her ankle still wasn't 100 percent by the time the FIBA world championships came around and by then she had also developed tonsillitis. Still she helped Team USA to the gold medal and was named to the all-tournament team. Later that year, she reinjured the ankle but still found a way alongside Collier, former UConn player De'Janae Boykin, and Notre Dame's Arike Ogunbowale to win the gold at the Youth Olympic Games.
And no one will forget she played almost the entire first half of the 2016 Final Four semifinal against Oregon State with a broken left foot suffered on the game's first possession.
When it comes to her injured left ankle now, Samuelson doesn't want to talk about it.
"I don't know," Samuelson said when asked if offseason surgery was in her future.
What will determine if you need surgery or not?
"I'm going to get an MRI and we'll see what it has," Samuelson said. "Right now, I'm good."
Is rehab helping?
"I have a new, really good brace, and I haven't had any issues since I started wearing it," Samuelson said. "I'm good."
How good may determine the success of UConn's bid to regain the national championship. The Huskies have five regular season games left before the AAC tournament starts for them March 4. Selection Monday for the 64-team NCAA field is March 12.
Samuelson will let her game speak for her. And heading down the stretch, it's speaking volumes.