With his father a Missouri basketball hero, Kentucky freshman Devin Booker got used to royal treatment at Mizzou Arena.
"They showed me a lot of love," he said Tuesday of the Missouri student sections. "I'm sure it'll be different now. But I understand. It's all good."
Of course, Booker will be on the visiting side when Kentucky plays at Missouri on Thursday. Apparently, it was a difficult decision not to follow his father, Melvin,
"We talked about it together for days on days," he said of the college choice.
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Melvin Booker played for Missouri in the early 1990s. He was the Big Eight Conference Player of the Year and All-American in 1994. He was among 20 players named to the Mizzou All-Century Team.
"He still has love for Missouri," Booker said of his father. "And he has love for Kentucky, now, too."
When asked if his father will wear blue at the game, Booker said, "I guess we'll see." The UK player said he asked his father the same question.
The elder Booker texted that he will be a man for all seasons in terms of attire. "I'm wearing black, gold and blue, lol," he texted.
"Missouri has a special place in his heart," Booker said of his father. "They show him a lot of love. They showed me a lot of love."
Missouri began recruiting the younger Booker when he was a seventh-grader. Booker, who grew up in Grand Rapids, Mich., said he was recruited by Michigan since the eighth grade.
Booker said Missouri fans let me know their displeasure with his college choice.
"But, you know, I still have love for Missouri," Booker said. "... They still have a place in my heart also."
Kentucky began its recruiting effort when Booker was entering his senior year of high school. When asked if he felt sympathy for Missouri, which put in so much recruiting effort only to see an 11th-hour entry by Kentucky lead to Booker's commitment, UK Coach John Calipari said. "Well, I've been on that side."
Calipari noted his previous head coaching jobs at Massachusetts and then Memphis.
"I hate to tell you, no one felt sorry for me," he said.
Marcus Lee equaled a career high with four blocks at South Carolina. That concluded a productive week that also saw him grab six rebounds against Vanderbilt.
When asked about the week, Lee said, "One thing is being more physical and holding on to rebounds, that's something I've really tried to keep totally focused on."
Lee said he's had to adjust from grabbing rebounds with one hand to using both hands.
"I've always been taught to go one-handed, then two, so it was a big change for me," he said. "It's something I've had to overly exaggerate until it's (second) nature."
Lee has improved his free-throw shooting. He made two of four in last week's games. He began the season making only four of 15.
"This is something I've always been working on, and it's just getting comfortable at the line," he said. "The more you shoot, the more you get better at it, so I've been going at it on a daily basis."
Calipari gave Willie Cauley-Stein's recent play a mixed review.
"He still needs to do some stuff for us offensively," the UK coach said. "... More offensive rebounds. Catching it 3 or 4 feet from the goal, and get fouled."
Cauley-Stein had made 12 of 14 free throws in the previous four games before not getting to the line at South Carolina.
For only the third time all season, Cauley-Stein did not grab an offensive rebound on Saturday. His four total rebounds were his low since the UT-Arlington game on Nov. 25. His two points were a season low.
Calipari said that Cauley-Stein is working on posting up wider and stronger.
Defensively, Calipari had no complaint.
"He's like having a sixth defender out there," the UK coach said. "Our pick-and-roll defense is really good based on the fact we can switch with him."
One-time UK recruiting target Montaque Gill-Casear will play for Missouri. He missed the first game in Rupp Arena. He is one of Missouri's two players with a double-digit scoring average (10.8 ppg). The other, Johnathan Williams III (12.6 ppg), made only one of 13 shots in the first UK-Missouri game.
"This will change the complexion of the game," Calipari said of Gill-Caesar's availability. "They needed one more guy to mix it up, and that's what he'll do. Plus, he can score."