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Mike Wise: Young Hoyas Grow Up at Cameron

Despite a handful of rallies, Georgetown can never catch up to a dramatic Duke push at the end of the first half, and the Blue Devils hold on for a 76-67 win in a highly anticipated face off.

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Cahill should have made the call on the Georgetown bench instead of robbing Georgetown of its offensive glue at a time the Hoyas had whittled a 15-point lead early in the second half to just 46-42.

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A fan directly behind the bench in a yellow Steelers baseball cap was said to be the culprit instead of Monroe. Not wanting to be a watered-down Bartman, he revealed neither his name nor his alleged role.

Either way, he didn't catch an alley-oop out of a timeout and dunk maliciously over the Hoyas' frontline, as did Henderson, who finished with 23 points and was flat-out the most explosive player on the floor. He was better than DaJuan Summers, who played well but hurt the Hoyas by missing five free throws in the second half. Henderson was also more of a game-changer than Monroe was before the fourth foul.

Paulus is still the irascible kid you want on your team at open gym -- a stubby, stir-the-pot guard who throws good players off their game by coming within a centimeter of their face. He's also incredibly annoying to play against. As Players on Duke That America Loves To Hate go, he's maybe Wojo squared or Chris Collins to the Nth power.

Which would have made a Hoyas victory all the sweeter and more satisfying.

John Thompson III wouldn't bite on the "Aura of Cameron" notion, offering, "I didn't think the building had anything to do with it; I think it was their players."

Still, you can't tell me Monroe, or any of the underclassmen who saw time yesterday, have ever played in this kind of environment before. There's not a high school gym anywhere with thousands of torsos literally leaning over the court, cheering your demise.

In fact, if Cameron has helped Duke immeasurably at home, you wonder if such an awesome home-court advantage could actually hurt you on the road.

Think about it: Inside this protective cocoon, Duke and Mike Krzyzewski are often almighty and nearly indomitable, an astonishing 198-3 against their most-recent nonconference opponents. They're like the Irish flyweight, unbeaten in Dublin, where they sing "Danny Boy" before each fight.

Throw the kid in Las Vegas in a neutral ring? He's a fish out of water, looking longingly for his people, waiting for the noise.

That's essentially Duke playing at a neutral site in the NCAA tournament after being the kings of Cameron.

It would be intriguing to see these teams meet at a neutral site, just as intriguing as every meeting has been recently.

In Thompson's second season at Georgetown, almost three years to the day, the Hoyas' student section stormed Verizon Center, toppling metal folding chairs, tables and anything in their way after JT III's team had rocked top-ranked Duke.

It was the first definitive sign that the program his father once lorded over had returned with a vengeance.

Today, Duke doesn't represent a measuring stick as much as a more-established peer -- a missed opportunity against another top 15 team, a growing experience for nine of the 11 kids on the roster who had never been here before. No need to ruin any furniture after a win.

John Thompson, Jr., was asked on a Raleigh radio show this week why his Princeton-educated son would even think of playing at Duke in the middle of a brutal Big East schedule. He quipped that JT III probably got that impulse from his mother.

If that's so, she knows best. For a kid like Monroe and his young teammates, Duke and their raucous home court on a Saturday in January is exactly what Georgetown needs.


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