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Updated: Friday, March 26, 2004 1:46 AM EST
NCAA BASKETBALL RECAP
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(8) Alabama 80, (5) Syracuse 71

PHOENIX (Ticker) -- Syracuse's halftime adjustments did not include Chuck Davis.

Davis scored 17 of his 19 points in the second half as No. 8 Alabama held on for an 80-71 victory over the fifth-seeded Orangemen in the semifinals of the Phoenix Region.

The Crimson Tide had a 38-36 halftime edge behind 15 points from Kennedy Winston, who was held to one basket in the second half. Davis picked up the slack, going 7-of-8 from the field over the final 15 1/2 minutes.

"I thought he was terrific and I don't think they had an answer for him," Alabama coach Mark Gottfried said.

"We just started going down there to him and he just started dominating," Crimson Tide guard Antoine Pettway said. "We just started giving the ball to him and he started working it out. He's a great player."

After falling behind by 11 points, the defending national champions used a 15-4 run and tied it on a pair of free throws by Gerry McNamara with 8:17 remaining. Alabama (20-12) responded with eight straight points, capped by Davis' dunk with 6:15 remaining, and the Orangemen never recovered.

"We just kept our cool," Alabama guard Ernest Shelton said. "They were going to make their runs and we were going to make our runs. They made their runs and we tried to weather it."

Emmett Thomas was scoreless before making a pair of free throws and a jumper during the decisive stretch as the Crimson Tide reached a regional final for the first time in nine tries.

"I'm proud they took the step that our program has never taken," Gottfried said. "That is something they should feel good about it."

Shelton made 4-of-8 3-pointers and scored 22 points for Alabama, which will face second-seeded Connecticut on Saturday.

The Crimson Tide shot 50 percent (25-of-52) from the floor, made 9-of-22 3-pointers and 19-of-23 free throws. They collected 22 assists and committed just nine turnovers.

The Orangeman were sloppy, turning over the ball 18 times leading to 21 points for Alabama. They shot 47 percent (26-of-55) from the floor but made just 11-of-28 shots in the second half.

"We made mistakes and they took advantage of that," Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. "Good teams do that. We made some uncharacteristic bad turnovers that you just can't make in a game of that magnitude."

McNamara scored 20 of his 24 points in the second half and Hakim Warrick added 21 for Syracuse (23-8).

"It's hard to repeat in anything," Orangeman guard Josh Pace said. "When you win, other teams start to look at you differently. You are going to catch the other team's best shot."

McNamara opened the second half with a pair of free throws to forge a 38-38 tie with 19:08 left. But the Orangeman scored just one point in the next five-plus minutes and committed five turnovers.

Davis scored the final six points of the spurt, capping it with a layup for a 49-39 cushion with 13:41 remaining.


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