It is no accident that Georgetown has won all five games it dominted in rebounding and lost the three in which it was beaten to the backboards.

"I can't think of many games we win that we don't pull down more rebounds," Georgetown Coach John Thompson said yesterday. "An edge in rebounding is consistent with winning basketball games."

Georgetown, after being outscored and outrebounded in Alaska by North Carolina and Louisiana State, began to improve almost all phases of its game -- especially rebounding -- and built a five-game winning streak by beating weaker opponents to missed shots.

But Saturday the Hoyas were upset by Drake, Largely a result of being outrebounded, 53-38. "And a lot of those were offensive rebounds," Thompson added. Eric Floyd, 6-foot-3 shooting guard, was Georgetown's leading rebounder with eight.

Tonight Georgetown goes against Texas Southern, which has two forwards who combine for 20 rebounds per game. The top five Hoya rebounders total 22 per contest.

"I'm not any more concerned about our rebounding problem than I am about any weaknesses we have right now," Thompson said. "We are behind in relation to where we were last year, and that includes rebounding. But I expected that and the team knows we have a lot of work (to do)."

In its 26-6 season last year, Georgetown was outrebound only seven times, and surprisingly won all seven games. But their most important rebounding statistic is that graduated senior Craig Shelton led the team in that catagory 16 games last year.

The players who form the nucleus of this year's team became so dependent on Shelton that all seem tentative about stepping forward to assume rebounding leadership -- a key role on a team whose offense is built around a controlled fast break.

"The kids on this team have the ability to rebound effectively, but initiative is another thing," said Thompson. "You don't lose players like Craig Shelton and John Duren and not expect some adjustment.

"But the guys on this team are just now beginning to realize they have become primary rebounders this year and are no longer complementary rebounders (to Shelton). They're just starting to say to themselves, 'Hey, I'm the man. I've got to initiate.'"

Nobody has so far. Center Ed Springgs leads the team with 5.8 rebounds per game. Forward Mike Hancock is next with 4.5, and three players are tied with four each.

Georgetown is outrebounding its opponents by four per game, but that margin was built against opponents like Southern, Wheeling and St. Leo.

Tonight, Thompson's team will have the problem of stopping Texas Southern's 6-foot-7 sophomore forward Harry Kelly, who averages 24 points and 9.8 rebounds. Mike Anderson, 6-8, is averaging 10.2 boards. The Tigers managed to outrebound Texas A&M's front court known as "The Wall" for one half before losing by 11. Kelly had 17 points last night Southern lost to Wisconsin, 58-49, to drop to 3-4.

"They're big," said Thompson, staring at a list of the Tiger heights. "They have mor size than we do to begin with and they bring a 7-footer, Ron Cavenall, off the bench. But theworst thing we can do is panic. About rebounding or anything else."