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March 20, 1987|MAL FLORENCE | Times Staff Writer

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Alabama walked into the wonderful world of three-point shots Thursday night and stumbled out dazed and bewildered.

Providence, the most prolific three-point shooting team in the country, had its version of Over the Rainbow in the NCAA Southeast Regional semifinals at Freedom Hall.

The Friars made 14 of 22 three-point shots, a sizzling 63.6%, in upsetting Alabama, 103-82, before a crowd of 16,576.

In a later semifinal game, Georgetown wore down Kansas, 70-57.

So it's a Big East final in the Southeast Saturday at 10:58 a.m. PST. It will be the fourth meeting between Georgetown and Providence this season, the Hoyas winning two of three.

Billy Donovan, who is listed as a 6-foot guard, but probably stands 5-10, made all five of his three-point attempts in the first half. He finished with 26 points along with 10 assists.

Donovan, who was in foul trouble in the second half, turned the three-point show over to guard Delray Brooks, a transfer from the Bob Knight camp at Indiana.

Brooks made four of his five three-point shots in the second half in beating a team that had won 11 straight games and was regarded as a favorite to make the Final Four. Brooks finished with 23 points.

Three-point shooting wasn't as prominent in the Georgetown-Kansas matchup. The Hoyas just gnawed away at the Jayhawks with mass substitution until they surrendered.

Reggie Williams, Georgetown's All-American forward, finished with 34 points. He was 8 of 21 from the field and made 16 of 18 free throws.

Danny Manning, Kansas' 6-11 All-American forward, scored 19 points in the first half and his team was still in contention, trailing only 34-29.

But he made only one basket in the second half and got four points as the Hoyas collapsed upon him.

Form prevailed for Georgetown (29-4) even though it's a young team featuring several freshmen and sophomores. It was a giant step for Providence (24-7) and a stunning defeat for Alabama (28-5).

Alabama has been to the round of 16 five times in the last seven years, but no farther.

Wimp Sanderson, Alabama's coach, stated the obvious when he said: "If they (Providence) shoot the way they did today they'll be a very difficult team to beat."

But Georgetown knows all about Providence and the Hoyas probably will extend their defense to the 19-foot, 9-inch line and beyond in an effort to contain Donovan and his teammates.

Providence also proved that it can play some defense if the occasion demands.

Alabama's Derrick McKey, the Southeast Conference Player of the Year, wasn't a factor. The slim, 6-9 center had scored 51 points in two previous tournament games.

However, he had only two points in the first half and finished with 11.

"I told our guys that one of the main keys is they have veteran players, who would not turn it over just because we were pressing," Providence Coach Rick Pitino said. "In order for our style to win tonight, we had to neutralize McKey. He had averaged about four or five lob dunks a game and our goal was not to let him have one. (He had one)."

Alabama was able to beat Providence's pesky press, but the guards couldn't get the ball to McKey. And the Crimson Tide which came into the game on a roll, couldn't match three-point shots with the Friars. Few teams can.

Providence was averaging 8.25 three-point baskets a game. The Friars almost doubled that average Thursday night.

Donovan has a namesake in Billy Donovan, a former outside-shooting specialist for Loyola in the '50s. The new Donovan didn't waste any time getting into a three-point groove. He made his team's first basket and was 5 for 5 for the opening half. He was in foul trouble in the second half. So Brooks picked up the slack to resume the routine three-point shots.

The Friars led, 49-41, at halftime and increased their lead to 73-58 with eight minutes to play. Alabama did make a 9-0 run late in the game, but Providence then stopped that surge by continual trips to the free-throw line.

"We didn't let McKey into the game," Donovan said. "Our big men did a good job of not letting the lob dunk go into him."

Donovan was the catalyst. He would penetrate, drawing two defenders, and then would kick the ball out to Brooks, Ernie Lewis (3 for 6 in three-point shots), or Steve Wright, who was 7 for 9 from conventional two-point range.

Brooks, who became eligible this season after a mutual parting with Knight, said that he had to assume a leadership role in the second half when Donovan was in and out of the lineup with foul problems.

The Friars seem to be on a mission. Pitino's 6-month-old son died two weeks ago and the players want to keep their coach from dwelling on the tragedy.

As for Kansas (25-11), it simply didn't have the manpower to stay with Georgetown, which has 14 straight wins.

"They're a great team," Kansas Coach Larry Brown said. "I think their defense in the second half was a big factor. They came down with every rebound that was in question and every loose ball.

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