Cavaliers Defeat Georgetown, 61-55, In John Thompson Classic
Dec 20, 2001
By JOSEPH WHITE
AP Sports Writer
WASHINGTON – Nineteen years after the “Game of the Century,” Virginia was in a zone.
That’s zone as in zone defense. Man-to-man stalwart Pete Gillen stunned everyone and went zone virtually the whole game, and it kept Georgetown’s big men quiet in Thursday night’s 61-55 victory in the John Thompson Classic.
“I can’t even spell zone,” Gillen said. “I know about traffic zones and parking zones and zone zones, but I don’t know anything about a zone, so I read a pamphlet this afternoon.”
Chris Williams had 17 points and 11 rebounds, and the No. 5 Cavaliers (7-0) had 23 offensive rebounds against the No. 16 Hoyas (9-2). Virginia scored 44 of its 61 points in the paint, many on tip-ins.
“If anybody in here wants to come in and teach us how to box out, I’m looking for volunteers,” Georgetown coach Craig Esherick said. “The key to the game clearly was we didn’t do a good job of keeping Virginia off the boards.”
While there wasn’t the hype of the Ralph Sampson-Patrick Ewing matchup of 1982, won by Virginia 68-63, the teams recovered from a laborious first half to produce a high-tempo, high-emotion finish as each played a ranked opponent for the first time.
Virginia won because it won the first half, taking a 32-24 lead at the break and keeping the lead between four points and 12 points the rest of the game. The Georgetown front court of Gerald Riley, Mike Sweetney and Wesley Wilson combined for 2-for-12 shooting in the first half.
The teams traded baskets for long stretches of the second half, thrilling an MCI Center crowd packed almost equally with fans from both teams.
“I felt like it was almost a home game,” Gillen said. “Our guys felt cuddly and warm and peachy and cozy, and we got off to a decent start.”
The 61 points is Virginia’s lowest total for a victory under Gillen, who called it “a Big East-type game.”
“It was physical. It wasn’t Xs and Os,” Gillen said. “It was toughness and heart.”
Kevin Braswell had a chance to cut the lead with the score 57-53 with 1:33 to play, but he missed the first end of a 1-and-1. Georgetown then failed to get the rebound when Virginia’s Adam Hall missed a dunk in the final minute, and Roger Mason and Hall made two free throws apiece in the final 40 seconds to seal Virginia’s 24th straight nonconference victory.
Tony Bethel scored 12 points to lead the Hoyas, who scored just nine points in the game’s first 13 minutes. Braswell finished with only seven points and made just two of his 14 shots.
Mason had 16 points and six assists, but also eight of Virginia’s 25 turnovers. Travis Watson had 12 points and 13 rebounds. The Cavaliers outrebounded the Hoyas 49-30.
Early on, Virginia’s turnovers and Georgetown’s inability to rebound canceled each other out because the only player who was shooting well was Williams.
Georgetown had scoring droughts of five and seven minutes, and eventually Williams made enough shots – including three tip-ins – to give Virginia a 19-9 lead with 7 minutes remaining in the half. At that time, Virginia held a 21-6 rebounding advantage, including 8-1 on the offensive boards.
Down 26-12, the Hoyas finished the half with a 12-6 run that included 3-pointers by Bethel and Braswell.
Ceremonies at the game commemorated the showdown of 1982, when Virginia’s Sampson was a senior and Georgetown’s Ewing a sophomore. Sampson, former Hoyas coach Thompson and former Cavaliers coach Terry Holland were on hand.
Virginia won that game, but Georgetown won the most recent thriller in the series, a triple-overtime 115-111 victory at Charlottesville in the NIT in 2000.