Two slam dunks by All-America center James Bailey off perfect lob passes, the second fouling out Georgetown star Craig Shelton with 8:19 left, propelled Rutgers to a 64-58 victory today in the East Regional of the NCAA basketball tournament.
The dunks gave the Scarlet Knights the first real momentum either team enjoyed and left Georgetown without its rebounding and inside scoring force.
When Bailey converted the free throw after Shelton's fifth foul, the second-round game was tied at 48. Georgetown managed only three points in the next seven minutes to trail, 60-51, and Rutgers earned a trip to Greensboro, N.C., for an East Regional semifinal Friday night against the winner of Sunday's Duke-St. John's game.
In the second game today, Syracuse had a 17-point lead at the half and held off Connecticut, 89-81. The Orangemen will play the winner of Sunday's North Carolina-Penn game in the other regional semifinal Friday night in Greensboro.
Bailey finished with 19 points and 14 rebounds, but 11 of those points and many of those rebounds came during Rutgers' 15-2 second-half streak that ended Georgetown's best season ever at 24-5.
Even before he knew today's opponent, Georgetown Coach John Thompson had said center play would be the key to success in the NCAA tournament. Georgetown's starting center, Tom Scates, did not play today because of a knee injury. Thompson refused to use Scates' absence as an alibi.
"It's very interesting when you look at the stat sheet because the true sign of an All-America is a kid who can score with three people on him," Thompson said. "We put everybody on the team on Bailey and he ended up getting 19 points and 14 rebounds."
Georgetown played most of the game using Ed Spriggs man to man against Bailey -- playing in front of and facing the 6-foot-9 senior -- and the other four Hoyas in a matchup zone. However, when Bailey made the second of his dunks, the Hoyas were playing a 2-1-2 zone because of foul problems.
Rutgers (22-8) got 17 important firsthalf points from guard Daryl Strickland (he finished with 21) and played solid man-to-man defense.
Meanwhile, Georgetown guards John Duren (six for 15) and Sleepy Floyd (four for 17) were outscored by opposing starting guards for only the fourth time this season.
Duren scored 12 points and Floyd just eight, his third game under 10 in his freshman season.Georgetown also lost the other two, to Detroit and Oral Roberts.
His all-around game improved near season's end, but in his last 11 games, Floyd made only 55 of 163 shots, slightly better than 33 percent.
He said he had not lost confidence in his shot. Of today's misses, he said, "I wasn't tight. It just wasn't falling."
Rutgers will take nine straight victories to Greensboro after a slow December in which four new Scarlet Knights adjusted to the four top returnees.
"I felt coming into the game we were as good as anyone here," said Rutgers Coach Tom Young. "But I had to convince our kids we were just as good."
Certainly, today's game will do that. On a day when senior power forward Abdel Anderson had just three rebounds and no points in 21 minutes, the Knights shot 50 percent for the eighth time in nine games.Offense had been their shortcoming earlier in the season.
Yet, neither team had shown any signs of taking a definite advantage today until Shelton fouled out and Bailey went to work.
Shelton picked up his fourth foul with 14:39 remaining and the Hoyas gave the Hoyas possession again and they drastically slowed the pace to either a double-post or a four-corner stall. Duren's layup, off a Steve Martin pass, made it 40-37.
According to Thompson, the Hoyas wanted to burn time off the clock while Shelton sat on the bench with four fouls.
They could do that with the lead. But Duren slipped, forcing a jump ball grabbed by Strickland, and Rutgers went ahead, 45-44, on the first of Tom Brown's perfect lob passes to Bailey.
"I just look at the position of the defensive man where James' man is playing," Brown said. "It's a success or failure play. If it works, fine. That's all I can say."
Thompson sensed Bailey's first slam was giving Rutgers a boost in momentum, so he ordered a time to be called with 9:23 remaining and returned Shelton to the game.
"We wouldn't have had to put him back so early is we had kept the lead," Thompson said. "But you're a little bit afraid at this point of getting too far behind and the momentum shifting.
"You're playing a chess game. The very thing that makes Craig great caused him to get in foul trouble -- his intensity. He saw Bailey open on the Alley-Oop pass and he went over to pick him up."
That occurred after jump shos by Shelton and Martin around two Rutgers misses gave Georgetown a 48-45 lead with 8:33 to play. Georgetown sagged in a 2-1-2 zone instead of man-to-man this time, Duren explained, because Rutgers already was in the one-and-one bonus situation.
The score went to 50-50 on a Spriggs hook that matched two Strickland free throws. Then, with the Georgetown team collapsing around Bailey, he found Kelvin Troy open underneath for a layup and a 52-50 lead.
Duren missed a short jumper -- "They just weren't falling for us today," he said -- and Gergetown would not score another field goal for more than five minutes.
Bailey got every rebound in sight during this period and also blocked a shot on Spriggs.
So Gergetown, which took an eight-game winning streak into its third NCAA apperance in Thompson's seven years, still has not won an NCAA tournament game since the 1943 team lost the championship game to Wyoming.
In the second game, 10th-ranked Syracuse piled up leads as high as 25 points in the first half before Connecticut staged a comeback that cut the deficit to four with 24 seconds left.
A slam dunk by Roosevelt Bouie, Syracuse's 6-11 capped the victory for the Orangemen, who were outscored, 46-37, in the second half.