Kentucky Coach John Calipari talked about tweaking his team’s approach after last weekend’s loss to Seton Hall. If one of those tweaks was making more three-point shots, it paid off in grand fashion Saturday.
Kentucky made a season-high 12 three-pointers in an 88-61 victory over Utah. The previous high for the Cats was 10 against Monmouth.
Keldon Johnson led the way. He made six three-point shots en route to scoring 24 points. Reid Travis chipped in 16 points.
Jemarl Baker, the player expected to help fill the gap created by Quade Green’s transfer, made the final two of UK’s three-pointers. He came in with 2:22 left and hit threes with 66 and 39.9 seconds left.
Digital Access For Only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Kentucky, which improved its record to 8-2, also played defense. Utah (4-5) committed four shot-clock violations, and flirted with at least four more. Utah also had 18 turnovers, which fueled a 34-9 advantage for Kentucky in points off turnovers.
Tyler Herro, who scored 17 points, gave the first half a fitting punctuation by swishing a three-pointer from the left wing at the buzzer. That gave Kentucky a 41-27 lead at intermission.
Kentucky made six three-pointers in the first half. That was more than UK had made in six of its previous nine games.
Utah came into the game expected to have an advantage in three-point shooting. The Utes ranked No. 71 with an average of nine three-point baskets per game. UK ranked No. 325 with an average of 5.6 per game.
“Well, we’re going to have to hit some threes in this game, there’s no doubt about it,” Utah Coach Larry Krystkowiak said on Friday.
The Utes made only three of 12 three-point shots in the first half.
Johnson led Kentucky’s long-range shooting. He made his first five three-point shots. That gave him 15 points with more than eight minutes left in the first half. That marked the most threes by a UK player so far this season. The previous high was the four PJ Washington made against North Dakota.