Kentucky is not going to be the biggest or most physical team this season.
So before the season started, Coach Matthew Mitchell argued the Cats would need to become an elite three-point shooting team.
“We’re working really hard right now on trying to be one of the best three-point makers,” the coach said in October. “We’ve shot a bunch of them, but we haven’t always made them.”
That took a dramatic turn Thursday when the No. 15 Cats dropped 12 three-pointers in a 92-43 victory over New Hampshire in Memorial Coliseum.
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The dozen three-pointers were one shy of Kentucky’s total in its first two games and two shy of the school record.
Cincinnati transfer Makenzie Cann, a former Anderson County standout, hit six of eight three-pointers and scored a UK-career-high 20 points.
“When Cann (gets) going, it takes a lot of pressure off everybody else,” said Mitchell, whose Cats shot 52.2 percent from the field and 48 percent from three-point range. “You have a big lead and playing in rhythm, knocking some shots down, that’s good.
“We’ll need to make those in high-pressure situations and really tough games. It’s great to see the ball go in the basket.”
Former walk-on Jessica Hardin added three three-pointers and finished with 11 points, one of six Cats in double figures.
“The sky’s the limit if we keep putting the work in,” Cann said. “We have a lot of three-point threats.”
Against the overmatched Wildcats from up north, the Cats (3-0) closed the first half on a 15-3 run and opened up the second half with 14 unanswered to put the game out of reach.
Senior forward Evelyn Akhator managed her third straight double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds to go with three assists.
“Not doing too much, really playing under control,” Mitchell said of Akhator, who has cut down on her turnovers this season. “Really, really played a beautiful game. … Great to see her out there playing with energy and playing under control. Real good.”
Fellow forward Alyssa Rice added a career-best 10 points and seven rebounds. UK outrebounded New Hampshire 39-35.
Though Kentucky held New Hampshire to single digits in two quarters, Mitchell wants to see improvement in transition defense. That could become an issue against Southeastern Conference opponents, he said, and on Saturday when UK makes its first road trip of the season to Colorado.
But he remained optimistic.
“The thing I like about our team is we will get there, we will be a good transition defense team because these kids work so hard and have such good attitudes,” he said.
New Hampshire (1-2), held to 24.2 percent shooting, was paced by eight points from Brittni Lai.
UK senior Makayla Epps had 14 points, five assists and three steals. Maci Morris added 10 points.
No. 15 Kentucky at Colorado
9 p.m. Saturday (WLAP-AM 630)