TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Freshman Devin Booker raised his right hand. Three fingers shot up as his thumb and forefinger formed an OK sign. He then slid his left hand up and down his right arm twice.
That gesture was on display in Kentucky's 70-48 victory at Alabama on Saturday.
Booker, who led UK with 13 points, said he learned the gesture from two players for the Golden State Warriors: his role model, Klay Thompson, and Steph Curry.
"They say it's reloading their gun," Booker said with a smile.
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Continuing his hot shooting of late, Booker shot holes in Alabama's defense. He made four of seven shots (three of six from three-point range). That made him 30 of 50 (20 of 28 from three) in the last seven games.
When asked how hot he feels as a shooter, Booker said, "It's just, you know, it's like I'm shooting in the ocean, now. It's really coming easy for me."
Teammate Willie Cauley-Stein noted how Booker has shot well in UK's three "true" road games: 12-for-23 overall, 8-for-15 from three-point range.
"Super impressed," Cauley-Stein said. "Especially for a freshman, and especially in games like this. Crowd ... bad-mouthing you. To be able to shoot like that is just remarkable to me."
UK Coach John Calipari was momentarily lost for words when asked how Booker compares to other shooters he's coached.
"Ooooh," he said. "He's pretty good. He's pretty good. Plus, he's building his confidence."
With Booker leading the way, Kentucky made 50 percent of its shots. The Cats had shot that well in five previous games. UK also made 47.1 percent of its three-point attempts. That was the second-best accuracy of the season (11-for-20 against Ole Miss being the best).
Calipari suggested Karl-Anthony Towns was lagging behind UK's other freshmen in terms of development.
"Got to get Karl playing more aggressively," Calipari said. "Hunting more post catches. He's still really good, but he's not where I want him. He's probably the one freshman. Trey (Lyles) and those (other) guys are kind of breaking out a little bit. And we've got to get him to break out, too."
Lyles' production pre- and post-Alex Poythress injury has been consistent.
Before Poythress suffered a season-ending torn anterior cruciate ligament, Lyles averaged 7.7 points and 5.9 rebounds.
In the seven games Poythress has been sidelined, Lyles has averaged 7.9 points and 5.1 rebounds.
Lyles shot with 46.8-percent accuracy with Poythress playing, and 48.9 percent since Poythress has been sidelined.
UK announced that a minor medical procedure might cause Dominique Hawkins to miss the game. UK did not say what the procedure was.
"He's fine," Calipari tweeted Friday night before the game. "Hope to have him available."
After the game, Calipari did not elaborate.
For the 10th time this season, Kentucky held an opponent to fewer than 50 points. That's the most in the era of the three-point shot and shot clock.
The previous high was seven times in the 1998-99 season. In seven seasons, UK did not hold any opponent to fewer than 50 points.
Alabama honored its 1974-75 SEC co-championship team. Its coach, C.M. Newton, was at the game.
Newton, the former UK player and director of athletics, turns 85 next month. He was using a cane.
Newton is literally a gray beard. Why did he grow a beard? "Why not?" he said with a smile.
Just win, baby
Associate commissioner Mark Whitworth, the man responsible for improving the perception of SEC basketball, acknowledged that he's fighting an uphill battle.
Although UK needed overtime and double-overtime to win its first league games, more than one ESPN analyst continued to insist that UK would be undefeated going into the NCAA Tournament.
Whitworth shrugged and said that, ultimately, league teams must win games to gain respect.
Saturday was Alabama's first sellout since Kentucky's last visit to Tuscaloosa (Jan. 22, 2013).
Going into the game, Alabama's average attendance this season was 9,847. That ranked sixth-highest among SEC teams.
The previous season high was 13,472 that saw Alabama beat UCLA 56-50 on Dec. 28.
Along came Jones
Texas A&M player Jalen Jones, who missed the game against UK last weekend, continued to show his value Saturday. He scored 18 points and grabbed nine rebounds in a come-from-behind victory at LSU. He had 16 points and three rebounds against Mississippi State on Tuesday.
Jones made six of seven free throws in each game.