For Georgetown, last night's defeat of Texas Southern was just a sparring session. Simply a tuneup for Monday's bout with No. 1 heavyweight De Paul in the Cabrillo in San Diego.
The 80-61 mismatch with the Tigers (3-5) should have been stopped in the early going. Southern kept pace with the Hoyas (6-3) for awhile, but Georgetown opened the second half with a flurry that led to a 24-point lead and knocked the Tigers right out of McDonough Arena.
A quiet crowd of 3,323 watched Georgetown win its fourth straight at home on a rare evening when guard Sleepy Floyd wasn't delivering the damaging blows.
Instead, forwards Jeff Bullis and Mike Hancock jabbed Texas silly with their best play of the season, offensively and defensively. Bullis scored a college career-high 18 points on seven-for-nine shooting, collected five rebounds and held 24-point-per-game scorer Harry Kelly to three-for-13 shooting and 11 points.
Hancock overcame a jittery first few minutes to score 15 points. Freshman swing man Fred Brown also scored 15. Floyd, a decoy most of the night, sacraficed himself for the improvement of the offense and in the process scored a career-low four points.
The Hoyas entered the game as the fifth-best shooting team in the nation, averaging 54 percent, and matched that this evening. Floyd and back court mates Brown and Gene Smith spent most of the night passing the ball into the front court to Bullis, Hancock and Ed Spriggs, who had eight points, for easy baskets.
"It's much more important that Bullis and Hancock have big games this time of the year than it it for Sleepy," said Georgetown Coach John Thompson. "Sleepy doesn't need it. He could have come off the court tonight with no points and it wouldn't affect his confidence, or have anyone doubting his ability."
Thompson knows that his team has a lot of work to do before reaching the competitive level it attained last year in it 26-6 season. Floyd, the junior, the team leader and preseason all-America, passed up the shots last night to take a bigger part in running the offense.
"Eric overdid it in a way," Thompson said. "I was getting ready to get on him because I wanted to see him look for his shot a bit more. But he sacrificed himself. It isn't important whether he leads the nation in scoring. I'm glad to see he's interested in getting the movement into our offense."
The tigers, from the Southwestern Athletic Congerence, took a 10-6 lead early in the game. But Georgetown, with sixth man Bullis playing, roared back to take a 22-12 lead and never were threatened thereafter.
The Hoyas should have led more than 40-31 at halftime, but committed 10 turnovers, only one fewer than Southern's 11.
"We're still not there yet," said Thompson, who has been warning everyone that his team should be a lot better in March than it has been in December.
Georgetown's offense was much more patient last night than it was in Saturday's loss to a struggling Drake. "The kids wanted to use more than one pass before shooting tonight," Thompson said. "We needed to see how our shot selection blended."
In Southern's defense, it arrived from Madison, Wis., where it had lost to the Big Ten's Badgers, only four hours before tipoff.
"We're a much better ball team than we showed tonight," said Coach Robert Moreland. "We were tired even before we took the floor."
Bullis said he was "kind of disheveled after the Drake game. I think it's concentration," he said. "I want to maintain a level of consistency and I haven't done that yet. I have one good game then fade into oblivion. They (his teammates) never know what I'm going to do.
"Coach Thompson has a simple formula. If we (he and Hancock) don't produce, we sit."
Said Thompson: "I don't want to put the monkey on their backs, but for us to win, Bullis and Hancock are going to have to play well. There are going to be some hard times for them, but they'll make it."