Janee Thompson knew it was a tight squeeze when she threw it into the post.
But Kentucky's point guard saw newcomer Evelyn Akhator under the basket and took a chance with the pass anyway.
Akhator scooped the ball up, and laid it in over two defenders in the No. 17 Cats' exhibition win last weekend.
As the ball went up and in, Thompson pumped her fist into the air and smiled.
"Evelyn is a supreme talent and she's so athletic," Thompson said of last season's junior college player of the year, who completed the play despite a sprained hand. "Sometimes I can take risks with her."
It's not just Akhator either.
What Kentucky is finding now is that when it finds its players in the post, those players finish the play like Alexis Jennings, who had a double-double in that exhibition win or true freshman Batouly Camara, who added 15 points off the bench.
"They've all worked so hard in the summertime," Thompson said. "The newcomers have worked extremely hard, so they're ready for the type of level of competition that they're going to see in the future. So I think the group we have is exciting."
And UK, which didn't have a post player average more than eight points last season, has been making getting the ball down low a top priority.
"Our confidence level is higher in that area than it's been in a while," Coach Matthew Mitchell said Thursday as Kentucky prepares for its season opener versus Rice on Friday night in Memorial Coliseum. "It's a combination of having good players and trying to be real intentional about it."
Intentional in that Kentucky has started nearly every preseason practice with drills on post entry passing.
"It was a signal to the players that we wanted to get it into the post, wanted to get the post players really working hard so they could get open and we wanted guards with their eyes up," Mitchell said.
"As I examined it over the last few years, we haven't been as good in that area as I wanted to be."
Last season, UK was a team that earned a No. 2 seed based on its scrappiness, not on its shooting acumen, making less than 40 percent of its shots.
When bigger, more physical teams made it into a half-court game, UK was outmanned. When the Cats needed points, there were no guarantees.
"It's a huge advantage for offensive efficiency when you can get the ball close to the basket and finish," Mitchell said. "And last year, quite frankly, we had a hard time. ... We just had some challenges with some lineups just throwing the ball in and getting buckets and it made it hard on us."
Mitchell: No rush to get Epps back
Kentucky star guard Makayla Epps has not been cleared to practice after suffering a concussion less than a week ago in practice.
The junior, who was going to miss the opener on Friday night per the terms of her suspension for an offseason incident, will continue to be monitored, Mitchell said.
"Today's a big day for her just to see where she is, but one thing you have to make certain is that you take care of the player, and we're just going to not rush into anything and make sure she's ready to roll when it's time," Mitchell said of Epps, who led UK in scoring last season at 14.9 points a game.
She would be a big lift Sunday when the No. 17 Cats travel to No. 15 Arizona State. The Sun Devils return four starters from a team that went 29-6 last season and advanced to the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16.
But Mitchell said there is "no pressure for Epps to play on Sunday whatsoever. ... She really got her bell rung there and it's been a tough thing to get past."