You can say Kentucky freshman Devin Booker has been missing shots lately. But don't use the s-word to describe those misses.
"I don't use the slump word with Devin," his father, Melvin Booker, said. "'Slump is like a bad word. He's just missing shots he has made."
In Kentucky's last three games, Booker has made five of 19 shots. That includes one-of-10 shooting from three-point range.
But when asked about his son's misses, Melvin Booker laughed.
"His shot looks good," said the elder Booker, who paid particular attention to the past 10 games. "I've watched them all in slow motion to see if there was a mechanics problem. There was no mechanics problem."
Devin Booker has made 11 of 42 three-point shots in UK's last 11 games.
His father explained his aversion to the word slump.
"A slump affects the entire game," he said. "Offense. Defense. Everything. He's just missing shots. But he's still playing hard, and he's still playing defense. He's still enjoying the game out there."
Oh, those refs
UK fans loved pressing/trapping defense when Rick Pitino used it for Kentucky in the 1990s. Maysville native Marquise Jackson, 17, said he expected UK fans to scream bloody murder when West Virginia presses and traps.
"They're going to lose their minds," he said. "Up 40 points, they're still going to cry over calls. That's just how they are. When they beat you, they want to beat you into the ground."
West Virginia assistant Erik Martin tried to sidestep a question about UK fans influencing the referees.
"I can't say anything about the refs," he said with a smile. "They'll fine me. Is that what they do?"
But West Virginia will give the referees plenty to ponder.
"We're going to be the aggressor," Martin said. "I'm sure we'll get some cheap ones tomorrow. We're going full speed and getting fouls, we can live with that. We just don't want dumb fouls."
Five at a time
Martin noted a reassuring word West Virginia coaches have given their players.
"They can only put five people on the floor," he said.
The message: Don't get caught up in the hype about Kentucky.
"They're celebrated," Martin said. "They've got McDonald's All-Americans. The media love that. It's Kentucky. Let's be honest."
Chance of a lifetime
WVU forward Jonathan Holton repeatedly cited growing up in the Liberty City section of Miami.
"How I was, like, raised, once that ball goes up, that's when it's game time," he said. "It doesn't scare us. It definitely doesn't scare me."
Holton noted how basketball enabled him to pursue a better life. He described the game against No. 1 Kentucky as a significant step in that process.
"I've been waiting for this chance my whole life," he said. "I finally get it. Playing against the best team in the country: It's all I've been working for up until this moment."
Alex Poythress accompanied the team to Cleveland. He did not go to last weekend's games in Louisville.
"I was just doing extra rehab," he said. "Doing two-a-days."
Poythress, who tore an anterior cruciate ligament in mid-December, said he did not have a timetable for a return to the court.
"No, nothing like that," he said. "Rehab's going well. We're just taking it day by day."
Poythress said he's talked with Willie Cauley-Stein, who did not play in the 2014 Final Four because of an ankle injury. "You've just got to fight through it," he said. "Things happen, and you just have to get over it."
Wichita State's leading scorer, guard Ron Baker (14.9 ppg) acknowledged the thrill that came from beating Kansas last weekend. But he dismissed the possibility of a letdown against Notre Dame on Thursday.
"You realize cloud nine can be replaced by cloud 10 if you win these two games this week," he said.
The UK-West Virginia game's scheduled start of 9:45 p.m. fits television's wishes. The networks did not want a direct Kentucky-North Carolina conflict. UNC plays Wisconsin at 7:47 on TBS. The 9:45 (or later) tip also enables CBS to maximize its West Coast audience to see the No. 1 Cats.
Marv Albert, Chris Webber, Len Elmore and sideline reporter Lewis Johnson will call the UK-WVU.