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Gators, Ducks gladly take three-bait.

Byline: Bob Clark The Register-Guard

ST. LOUIS - If the NCAA wants to study the effect of the three-point field goal on college basketball after 20 years, today's Midwest Regional final between Oregon and Florida will be worth a look.

Even with one of the most dominating inside games in the NCAA Tournament, the Gators are likely to see Lee Humphrey set a school record for career threes today with his next one, and two would give him 100 for the season.

Then there are the Ducks. Every Oregon starter has made at least 23 three-pointers this season, and all five have made more than 40 percent of their attempts.

Can anybody imagine these two teams without the three-point shot?

`I remember 20 years ago when it came in, everybody said `it's going to ruin the game, we're not going to get baited into taking the three,' ' Florida coach Billy Donovan said.

Well, look now. According to NCAA figures, while teams averaged 3.5 three-pointers in a game in 1987 on 9.2 attempts, teams last season made 6.4 of their 18.4 attempts in the average game.

Florida, even with its inside game, is making 7.2 of its 17.9 attempts this season. The Ducks are making 10.1 while attempting 25.7.

`I think it's a great, great weapon,' UO coach Ernie Kent said. `It's a shot that I love and I've given probably seven, maybe eight guys on my team the green light to shoot it at any time.'

Thus, Tajuan Porter has set a Pac-10 record for freshmen with 108 three-pointers, 12 short of the league mark for players of any age. Aaron Brooks needs one today to move into fourth on the UO career list for made threes. Maarty Leunen, the tallest Oregon starter, has attempted 98 threes himself.

In the average Oregon game, the Ducks score 33 points on two-point field goals and 30.3 on threes.

`Could you imagine in football if you throw for a touchdown you're going to get nine points, but if you run for a touchdown you only get six?' Donovan asked. `When you have a scoring system like that, the three-point line alters the game, totally alters the game.

`It can take a team that's maybe not as athletic and not as talented, but they can really shoot ... they can be very effective and hard to beat because of the (three-point) line.'

It first became obvious in 1987, that first year of the three-point shot, when Donovan played on a Providence team that shot its way to the Final Four with three-point attempts. The three-point distance of 19 feet, 9 inches was considered somewhat experimental then, but it hasn't changed despite experiments with the international distance of 20-6.

Donovan said he thinks a longer distance might only make it easier to shoot, because it spreads the defense more.

`I like it where it's at,' said Humphrey, who's made 45.0 percent of his threes coming into today's game. `If they moved it back, it would probably make a difference, ... but I would probably take just as many threes.'

And if there wasn't a three-point line at all?

`I don't think it would affect me,' Porter said. `I'd still be shooting from out there, it just wouldn't count for more points.'
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Mar 25, 2007
Words:553
Previous Article:As Ducks soar, Kent's status stays in limbo.
Next Article:Porter a big deal on national stage.
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