After the clouds and fog finally lifted, displaying the splendor of Mount McKinley, America's tallest mountain, 200 miles north of here, North Carolina displayed Mount Worthy to Georgetown later today in the semifinals of the Great Alaska Shootout.
Georgetown was unable to scale the same heights as James Worthy, North Carolina's 6-foot-9 sophomore forward, whose second-half offensive rebounding overcame Georgetown's dynamic first half and put the Tar Heels in the final with an 83-71 victory.
In defeat, Georgetown showed the potential to continue at a level among the nation's college basketball elite, despite the graduation of high pro draft choices Craig Shelton and John Duren from the 26-6 team that reached the NCAA quarterfinals.
Today, Georgetown played splendidly for a half. The Hoyas led, 40-34, at intermission, using a somewhat dominating inside game that thoroughly checked Worthy and 6-9 freshman Sam Perkins. Then inconsistency and inexperience, plus Carolina's relentless defense, put the Hoyas into a hole from which they could not escape.
Carolina took 29 shots from the field in the second half. The Tar Heels failed to score or follow up with an offensive-rebound basket on only three of them. Worthy, with 17 points and 13 rebounds, helped the Tar Heels score seven second-half followup baskets and hold a 27-11 rebound edge for a 42-24 game advantage.
While Worthy was getting the rebounds, Georgetown was going through a cold streak against a Tar Heel zone packed in to prevent a repeat of the first half when big men Mike Hancock (nine), Ed Spriggs (six) and Ray Knight (six) scored more than half the Hoya points.
Georgetown responded in the second half with impatience and, as a result, went more than six minutes without scoring, with a 24-6 Carolina streak leaving the Hoyas behind, 60-50, with eight minutes to play.
However, the Hoyas did not fold. But against North Carolina, the press that had rewarded these heart-attack Hoyas so much in the past could not close the lead to less than four points. Carolina made its foul shots and pulled away at the end.
The differences between the first half and the second were: Worthy's dominance inside, even on one leg; Georegtown's inconsistency (power forward Hancock seemed to lose concentration in the second half) and the impatience of the Hoya offense.
Georgetown Coach John Thompson, who had told a friend at breakfast he considered this game no more that a scrimmage in order for him to evaluate his players against a strong opponent, did not criticize the 6-foot-7 Hancock.
"It's a new position for him," said Thompson about the junior who was Georgetown's token starting center a year ago. "With time and experience, he'll get better. That's what experience is about. We lost our concentration and a great player takes advantage of it, and that's what he (Worthy) did.
"I liked him before the game. He's nothing flashy; he just gets it done . . . One leg? I'd hate to see him play on two."
Worthy, who obviously drags a twice-injured right leg that he says is now at 80 percent, said that he continually tried to fight Hancock's boxing-out efforts and succeeded in the second half because, "They out-hustled us the first half and that's very unusual for a North Carolina team. We came out the second half and played with our hearts."
At the start of the half, he was able to twist his way around Hancock for two of his three offensive-rebound baskets that brought the Tar Heels even at 50.
"I've got to play a lot harder and smarter," said Hancock, who scored all nine of his points in the first half and had only two rebounds in the game.
"You have a tendency to expect a little bit of inconsistency at this time," Thompson said. "It's important we keep things in perspective. You can't panic at this time."
North Carolina will play Arkansas at midnight EST for the championship. For the second straight evening, the Razorbacks opened a big lead, then thwarted a rally by a higher-ranked team, stopping Louisiana State, 86-76.Georgetown will play the Tigers for third place.