1. In screaming neon lights, Kentucky underscored the power of the three in a game at Louisiana State in 1994.
Rick Pitino’s Wildcats trailed 48-32 at the half. When LSU spurted to a 68-37 lead — 31 points — several minutes into the second half, the Tigers were ready to name the score. Well, not quite. Pitino’s guys kept cranking threes — 12 of 23 in the second half — and methodically sliced into the deficit as the Tigers lost focus.
With 19 seconds left, Kentucky’s Walter McCarty hit a three to put his team ahead by one, and it won, 99-95, completing the biggest comeback victory in NCAA history.
2. Steamiest weekend romance with the three? Randolph Childress, a Wake Forest guard, drained 23 of them in 44 tries, averaging 35.7 points in Wake’s three-game burst to the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament title in 1995.
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In the title game, Childress froze North Carolina’s Jeff McInnis so badly with a crossover dribble that McInnis tripped over his own feet. Childress gestured for McInnis to get up, and in the same motion, threw in one more three.
3. Kansas State basketball has been down a long time, and a player named Pervis Pasco helps you understand why.
Big 12 tournament, first round, 2003: With his team up by two, Pasco intercepted a Colorado inbounds pass with three seconds left and triumphantly raised an arm and began walking off. Big mistake. He was whistled for traveling with 1.8 seconds left, and the Buffs’ James Wright banked in a three-pointer at the buzzer. Colorado won, 77-76.
4. A mere two weeks after the 1990 death of All-American Hank Gathers, Loyola Marymount undressed defending national champion Michigan with a blinding pace and a barrage of three-pointers unseen before or since on a big stage.
Jeff Fryer, a 6-foot-5 guard, hit 11 of 15 treys and the Lions connected on 21 of 40 to defrock the Wolverines, 149-115, still a record number of points in an NCAA-tournament game.
5. NCAA career three-point-percentage leader? Why, none other than Washington State coach Tony Bennett, who nestled in 49.7 percent in four years at Wisconsin-Green Bay, playing for his dad, Dick.
Good thing for Pac-10 teams that Arizona’s Steve Kerr, one of the deadliest shooters ever, only had a year with the trey. Rehabbing a knee injury, he sat out the year the three-pointer was unveiled, but in 1987-88 hit 57.3 percent, easily a Pac-10 record.
6. When the three was implemented, some coaches embraced it, some disdained it. Nobody profited quite like Pitino and Providence, who, in a march to the Final Four led by guard Billy Donovan, fired 665 threes that year, 260 more than the next most Big East free-wheeler, Georgetown.
Oregon State, with Ralph Miller nearing the end of his career, launched only 170. In fact, the Pac-10 tried a modest 2,188 that first year, or 3,357 fewer than this year’s 5,545.
7. Nothing, not even a substitution, could stop Evansville’s Scott Haffner in a 1988-89 game against Dayton. Haffner scored 65 points — a Division I high in the 1980s — and hit 11 of 13 treys in a 109-83 victory. His last two three-pointers came in a 30-second span while his sub waited at the scorer’s table to enter the game in the last two minutes.
8. Oregon was among the first teams to feel the swift pain of the three. In a 1987 game, the Ducks led Oregon State by eight with 38 seconds left. The Beavers fired in three treys — one by Gary Payton — spiced by two Oregon turnovers, and OSU won at the buzzer, 64-63.
9. Rick Pitino’s fingerprints are all over the three, even when the other team is the story. In an NCAA regional game in 2005, West Virginia broke to a 20-point lead, gunning in threes from all over the floor.
Back came Louisville, chasing down the Mountaineers and winning in overtime. West Virginia made an astonishing 18 of 27 three-point attempts — and only eight two-point baskets.
10. Ronnie Carr of Western Carolina is in the Naismith Hall of Fame for having made college hoops’ first three-pointer, but it didn’t come in 1986-87, it occurred in 1980.
Seems that the NCAA, as a way of gauging the effect of the three, authorized several leagues in the ’80s to try it on an experimental basis, among them the Southern, Sun Belt and ACC (think the line is too close now? In the ACC’s experimental season of 1982-83, it was 17-9, or two feet closer than today.).
The night Carr connected first on a 22-foot three, Tennessee-Chattanooga also had the arc in play, and the two schools, knowing they could make history, moved up their starting times to one-up the other before reason prevailed and they reverted back to their original tipoffs. Via a phone hookup on press row at both sites, the two schools kept tabs on each other until Carr made history.
All of which would draw a yawn from the folks at Fordham University in the Bronx, N.Y. A publicist there says Fordham used the trey, at 21 feet, on an experimental basis in a game against Columbia in 1945.
According to Fordham, players knew even back then what to do with the trey. Columbia hit 11 “long goals” and Fordham nine.