Highly ranked Georgetown whipped a nervous, cold-shooting Old Dominion team, 73-52, in the ECAC Southern Division playoff tonight. Hoya center Tom Scates suffered a knee injury in the game's fourth minute.

Scates was injured in a collision, ODU forward Tommy Branch running into a pick set by the 6-foot-11, 250-pount Scates.

Dr. Carl McCartee, the Georgetown team physician, ruled Scates out for the rest of the game and Georgetown Coach John Thompson said the extent of Scates' injury and his availability for Saturday's ECAC Southern-Up-state New York final against Syracuse will not be determined until a complete examination this morning.

"I don't want to speculate on it," Thompson said.

Freshman Ed Spriggs, who has improved steadily if not spectacularly to give Georgetown tow centers, replaced Scates and played well before getting into foul trouble. He scored seven points and had eight rebounds in 26 minutes.

Scates, who does all the things that don't show up in the box score and generally is unappreciated by everyone but Thompson and his Hoya teammates, could play an important role against Syracuse, which defeated St. Bonaventure, 83-71, tonight at Rochester, N.Y.

Minutes after walking off the Robins Center floor here after the Hoyas equaled a school record with their 23rd victory in 27 games, Thompson said: "If we've lost Scates, I wonder whether we won this game."

The Georgetown coach also said he was looking forward to palying Syracuse, ranked fifth and sixth in the polls, with the winner gaining an automatic bid and likely high seeding in the NCAA tournament.

"Syracuse, that's the game I want to play. I'm looking forward to it. I probably won't after it's over. But the team that wins the game can honestly say they're the best in the East."

Thompson could be pardoned for looking ahead so QUICKLY, BECAUSE TONIGHT'S GAME WILL NEVER BE A CANDIDATE FOR COLLEGE BASKETBALL'S HALL OF FAME.

Both teams started nervously, Georgetown thinking about two ECAC Southern playoff losses the last two seasons and Old Dominion with two freshmen forwards as their top scorers in lieu of injured Ronnie Valentine.

Georgetown, however, with freshman guard Eric (Sleepy) Floyd hitting from the outside for 10 of Georgetown's first u7 points, quickly regained its composure. And ODU, 23 percent shooters for the first half and 30 percent for the game, kept missing and digging a deeper hole.

Floyd finished with 24 points and forward Craig Shelton had 19.

cThe first two minutes, both teams were tight," said Georgetown point guard John Duren. "Fortunately, we got going first."

Georgetown's defense took away freshman Ronnie McAdoo's inside moves and left fellow freshman forward Branch, out of De Matha High, to shoot from the outside over the Hoya zone. He made one of nine first-half shots, the basket coming 2 1/2 minutes before intermission.

"We're a young team and this was our worst shooting night of the year," Brach said. "It just happened. All five guys shot poorly on the same night. They hit a few shots and got confidence. And when we got in a hole, we started taking bad shots."

"We were a little nervous going into the game and I didn't think we would be," said ODU Coach Paul Webb, whose team won 21 of its 26 regular-season games and came through in pressure situations frequently.

The way Georgetown played tonight," he added, "was enough to make us nervous."

Georgetown started out in zones that went from 2-3 to 2-1-2 and the more Old Dominion missed, the tighter the Hoyas packed it in.

The Monarchs missed 20 of their first 25 shots.

"We didn't shoot the ball the way we've been shooting it," Webb said. "And I don't mean the ball not going in the basket. It was technique. We were hurrying ourselves and that was probably due to our inexperience.

"We were excited and that nervousness... didn't wear off."

Webb said later it was the first game of the seven that Valentine has missed that the Omnarchs really missed him. The junior forward is an excellent perimeter shooter and scored 36 points, an ECAC playoff record, against Georgetown two years ago.

Meanwhile, Georgetown freshman Floyd loved the pressure, as he had in early season wins against Maryland (28 points) and Indiana (21).

"They were keying on John because he had been playing so well," Floyd said. "So that left me open and with the pressure on me to make the shots. I love the personal pressure. We put more pressure on ourselves than anyone else does."

After Georgetown opened a 17-6 lead, the Hoyas had only two minor scares.

ODU closed to 20-14, but with Floyd so hot, the Monarchs changed from their man-to-man to a 2-3 zone with the guards playing even with the top of the key.

"That jst causes the middle to be wide open," said Steve Martin, who came back from a partial shoulder separation to play 34 strong minutes.

Quickly Shelton made two baskets off passes into that open middle and sank two free throws and it was 26-14.

The second scare came after Shelton and Spriggs Each picked up his fourth fouls, midway in the second half. ODU had cut the margin to 49-35. So Georgetown, with Martin and Duren and three freshmen, to a double high-post stack offense, a stall in which the Hoyas want to shoot only layups or free throws.

The Hoyas scored on 12 of 16 possessions out of this alignment, starting with four points by Duren. Thompson said later:

"I'm extremely pleased to have a man named Mr. Martin back. When we have to burn a little clock out there, he controls everybody's emotions and calms them down.