Tradition and the George Washington University team were swept away last night by a basketball tidal wave named Georgetown.

The Colonials were swamped by the superior defensive play of Georgetown guards Eric Floyd and John Duren and the 98-74 victory before a McDonough Arena sellout crowd of 4,520 should give notice Georgetown might be the best unranked basketball team in the United States.

The margin of this normally close intracity rivalry more than doubled the combined spread (11 points) of the past six regular-season games for the basketball bragging rights of Georgetown and Foggy Bottom.

The Hoyas' tidal wave is gaining force. Last night's victory was Georgetown's ninth straight and assured the Hoyas of their third straight 20-victory season. Georgetown is 20-5 and its projected course should take it into the Big East and NCAA tournaments at peak intensity.

"So much for that tradition," said a pleased Georgetown Coach John Thompson a few minutes after acknowledging a standing ovation for this team with three fist-in-the-air salutes as he left the court.

"We have to make an impression on the (NCAA) selection committee," Thompson added. "It's that simple."

With Floyd (30 points) and Craig Shelton (26) each equaling their career-scoring highs, and Duren adding 17 points and nine assists, the Hoyas made an impression on GW Coach Bob Tallent, who over the years never had been a Georgetown fan.

"They played great. No question that they have a great team," he said. "You talk about Floyd and Duren. They're the best back court in the country. Duren runs that team so well, it's just amazing."

Thompson also boasted of his guards, saying they play as well at both ends of the court as any in the nation. Last night, Floyd and Duren applied the defensive pressure that took GW out of its normal offense, evaporating early the expectation of much suspense.

Duren had five and Floyd three of Georgetown's 14 steals. They started their larceny in the game's opening minutes, when Georgetown zipped to a 24-14 lead.

However, the Hoyas could not make a rout of it until early in the second half because GW forward Tom Glenn, who fouled out with eight minutes to play, scored 14 of his 22 points and GW's man-to-man "defense" made Georgetown's fast break drool with such anticipation that it often ran out of control.

But the Hoyas expanded their 44-38 halftime advantage to 59-46 in the opening four minutes of the second half, then ran off nine straight points, the last two baskets following steals by Floyd and Shelton, for a 78-59 margin with 9:20 to play.

Floyd said he was not aware of how much of a rout the game had become until the final five minutes.

"We're trying to work toward the (NCAA) tournament to win the whole thing," he said. "I wasn't aware of the score until the last five minutes. I was playing hard. I'm sure the rest of the team was playing the same way." i

Shelton said neither the fact his team was unranked this week after upsetting No. 2 Syracuse on the road nor bitter memories of last year's GW game after which some Colonial players spoke harshly of Hoya center Tom Scates, prodded Georgetown into such intensity.

"We feel we should be ranked," the 6-foot-7 forward said, "but we're not disappointed. We want to play the best we can. We want to play the best we can. We want to come in here Saturday and play Holy Cross with the same intensity and togetherness.

"I'm pretty sure the NCAA knows who we are, even though we aren't ranked. "They haven't ignored us. They know we exist."

GW, 14-10 with five losses in the past six games, has slumped badly after close losses to Villanova and Virginia Tech. And, shortly after last night's loss, the Colonials received the word that Pittsburgh had beaten Villanova, meaning GW will play its first-round game in the Eastern Eight tournament on the road.

"They're a good ball club," GW guard Brian Magid saluted the Hoyas after being harassed all night and held to fewer field goals (four) than turnovers (five).

"But the main thing was we didn't attack. We were very tentative. He let them dictate what we were going to do. We just didn't play a very smart basketball game."

Added center Mike Zagardo: "They got that killer instinct. It's easy to win by five or 10, but the only other team that beat us like this was Missouri and they're ranked high (ninth by UPI and 13th by AP)."