Arguably, no fan figured to be more emotionally involved in the Kentucky-Missouri game Tuesday night than Melvin Booker.
Of course, he is the father of UK freshman Devin Booker. He's also not only a former Missouri player, but one of 20 members of the Tigers' All-Century Team.
When asked about a game featuring his son against his alma mater, Booker said, "You know, it's going to be strange. This is one of the first times I ever kind of root against Mizzou. But it's a different thing. I hope Mizzou plays well, but I want Devin to play well and Kentucky to win."
The elder Booker, who ranks fifth on Missouri's career scoring list (1,697 points), was not able to attend the game. He is an assistant coach for a Mississippi high school team that played Tuesday night.
"I'll be following it through social media," he said of the UK-Missouri game.
The elder Booker, who hopes to attend Kentucky's return game at Missouri on Jan. 29, said he records every one of his son's games and watches the recording three times.
"Once as a fan," he said. "Again to watch details."
The third time to see "all of Devin's movements," he said.
Devin Booker has given his father plenty of pleasing action to watch lately. He's made 16 of 21 three-point shots in the last five games. That kind of shooting led the Southeastern Conference to name Booker its Freshman of the Week for last week.
But that's not what caught the elder Booker's eye.
"He's a natural born shooter," he said of his son. "He's always been able to shoot the ball.
"The most important thing is I like to see how hard he's playing on defense because that's the thing I was concerned about with his adjustment."
The elder Booker noticed his son was guarding Jarvis Summers when the Ole Miss player, the Southeastern Conference's leading active scorer and assist man, took and missed a potential game-winning shot at the end of regulation.
"Imagine that," Melvin Booker said. "A freshman, late shot, defending a senior who is one of the better guards in the country. I thought he did a pretty good job of containing him and forcing him to shoot with a hand in his face."
ESPN analyst Dick Vitale suggested Alex Poythress's injury contributed to UK needing overtimes to win each of its first two SEC games.
"Took away toughness, 'physicality,' experience," Vitale said before adding, "I think they'll make up for that."
UK Coach John Calipari sent mixed signals when the Cats needed overtime periods to win each of its first two league games. He counseled calm as when tweeting "RELAX" after Kentucky beat Ole Miss 89-86 in overtime. Then he sounded alarms when UK needed two overtimes to win at Texas A&M last weekend. He said UK was not a good team and needed a day off to "self-reflect."
When asked how to interpret the UK coach's varying reactions, Vitale smiled.
"John Calipari is Dr. Calipari," he said. "He is a psychologist who can teach at Harvard."
Translation: Calipari was trying to control the reaction to the two surprising games.
For a second straight game, Kentucky faced an opponent missing one of its better players because of injury.
Freshman Montaque Gill-Caesar missed his third straight game because of a back injury. Gill-Caesar, whose first name is pronounced "mon-TAKE," is averaging 11.5 points.
Kentucky showed recruiting interest in Gill-Caesar, who played in high school at Huntington (W.Va.) Prep.
Calipari watched him play a few times last summer. By then, UK knew its roster would be full. Kansas, Michigan State and Ohio State were among the schools that offered scholarships. He followed Huntington Prep Coach Rob Fulford to Missouri.
Gill-Caesar injured his back on a flagrant foul in Missouri's game against Illinois on Dec. 20.
Vitale will sign his new book, It's Awesome, Baby, on Friday in Middletown.
He is signing from 5 to 7 at the Kroger on Shelbyville Road.
All proceeds from book sales go The V Foundation, he said.