An unusual 11 A.M. start might have contributed to a cold start for the UK Hoops team against New Hampshire today. The Wildcats scored only two points in the game's opening five minutes, but poured it in on over the remaining 35 minutes to defeat the northern Wildcats 92-43 in a complete team effort to stay undefeated and improve their record to 3-0.
Mackenzie Cann had a breakout day. Thus far in the young season, the Cincinnati transfer has been Kentucky’s first and best player off the bench. Against New Hampshire she was the Wildcat’s best player on the floor. Cann rode hot shooting from beyond the arc (6-of-8) to become the third different Wildcat player of the season to score 20 points in a game and lead the team in scoring. She also had five rebounds and four assists. Her consistency shooting the ball, hustle on defense, and ability to put the ball on the floor gives Matthew Mitchell’s team a whole new dimension when she is on the floor.
The first half was all about balance. So far this season, Evelyn Akhator stellar first half play has regularly bailed out her slow-starting teammates. Against New Hampshire, the rest of the team matched the senior forwards intensity and built a 24 point lead going into the break, 44-20. Makayla Epps and Mackenzie Cann lead the way with 11 points a piece. It was Epps best start to a game this season as she went 5-of-10 from the field, 1-of-3 from deep in the opening twenty. Cann’s trio of three-pointers were a welcome spark off the pine considering how quiet UK’s second unit was through two games. Alyssa Rice played her best half of the season period. She was efficient in the post, going 3-of-6 in the half and matched Akhator with five rebounds, finishing the game with 10 points and seven boards.
The reserve rotation is finally starting to show an identity. Outside of the starting five, a giant question mark hung over the rest of Kentucky roster, but against New Hampshire Kentucky’s bench provided an answer. Anderson County native Mackenzie Cann’s hot shooting will surely earn her more playing time if she keeps it up. Senior walkon Jessica Hardin’s toughness and willingness to shoot is an ample asset as well. However, freshman Jaida Roper is the diamond in the rough of the trio. Roper impact on the score sheet was sparse, two points on 1-of-5 shooting, but her ball handling and floor vision is superb and makes her a fun player to watch.
Evelyn Akhator is Kentucky’s MVP so far this season. Following a monster game against Albany, Akhator settled for a much quieter double-double, 17 points and 11 rebounds, her third of the season. Her propensity for doing so is old hat at this point for UK Hoops fans, but her ability to go out and hit 10-12 foot jumpers gives Kentucky the versatility in the post they’ve lacked for the past several seasons.
- Kentucky hit a season high 12 three pointers on 25 attempts. Kentucky was 36-of-69 (48 percent) as a whole.
- The Wildcats barely won the battle of the boards 39-35. New Hampshire actually out-rebounded UK 12-10 on the offensive glass.
- UK dominated the points in the paint 38-8.
- Kentucky turned in another solid game on defense. They limited the Wildcats to 24 percent shooting and turned them over fourteen times to the tune of 22 points.
- UK had 22 assists, half of which came from Makayla Epps and Jaida Roper.