They call it the Louie and Bouie Show, for 6-foot-8 forward Louie Orr and 6-foot-11 center Roosevelt Bouie, the two Syracuse seniors who make the second-ranked Orangemen legitimate contenders in a wide-open race for the NCAA basketball championship.
They beat Purdue and Joe Barry Carroll on the road, the springboard of the highest ranking in the school's history. Tonight, Georgetown upset the Orangemen and ended the nation's longest Division 1 home-court winning streak by shutting down Syracuse's inside game.
Georgetown's record is now 18-5 with three more games before the playoffs.The Hoyas will not surpass last year's best-ever regular season, which was expected. However, tonight's play of centers Ed Spriggs and Mike Frazier made it seem likely Georgetown is in the position it wanted -- to be able to escape a first game loss in the NCAA tournament.
In seven seasons, Georgetown has advanced to the NCAA tournament three times and never won. The loss to Rutgers last season was most telling. Power forward Craig Shelton fouled out and center James Bailey feasted on the Hoyas.
Spriggs had played only seven minutes in the previous eight games, since severely spraining an ankle against Oral Roberts Jan. 12. Tonight he showed he is back. He played 23 minutes, scored nine points, grabbed six rebounds and hardly seemed all that tired afterward.
"Everybody was pumped up," Spriggs said, explaining how he could play so many minutes. "Our adreneline was flowing."
Whatever defense Georgetown played, the job of Spriggs and Frazier was to keep Bouie from getting the ball. The Orange center took only six shots all night, two second half. He and Orr finished the game with 17 points combined.
Georgetown gave the centers a lot of help, swarming to the big men whenever they did touch the ball.
Thompson refused to discuss his precise strategy, saying the Hoyas might face these Orangemen again.
Sprigg's strategy? "To keep the ball away from him," the 6-9 sophomore said. "You can't stop him once he has the ball."
Brendan Malone, Syracuse's assistant coach, keeps intricate charts on the bench. Tonight, he pointed also to Spriggs' offensive rebounding for getting Georgetown back in the game.
In the first half, the Orangemen threw up a 2-3 zone defense and the Hoyas missed eight straight shots against it, without getting an offensive rebound basket. In the second half, Spriggs got three.
Spriggs did not play in Georgetown's two-point loss to St. John's and Jeff Bullis played only eight minutes. Tonight, Bullis made two big baskets and three rebounds and allowed Thompson to play a big front line the Hoyas will need at times if they hope to do well in the post season.
And depth. Georgetown's starting center tonight, Mike Hancock, finished the game as thrid-string. And the Hoyas hotshot guards, Eric Floyd and John Duren, missed 10 of 25 attempts. Yet the Hoyas won with the inside game.