Upsets have a way of giving rise to other upsets, so American University Coach Ed Tapscott is wary about playing a very young George Washington basketball team tonight at 8 at Smith Center.

American (4-1) goes into the game fresh from a 62-61 victory over fifth-ranked Georgetown Wednesday night. Tapscott doesn't want his players becoming overconfident.

"GW is a good young team," he said. "This is another innercity rival, so we have to go after them. I told the fellas that the Georgetown game is over, it's in the books. A victory over GW is just as important as a victory over Georgetown, in my opinion."

Since 1969, when American and George Washington resumed their rivalry after a 40-year hiatus, the Eagles have won 12 of 17 contests, including the last two. The Colonials are 3-2 this season.

Tapscott used a variety of defenses to keep a young Georgetown team off balance, and said he probably would try the same thing against George Washington, which starts three freshmen. Rebounding also will play an important role, he said.

The Colonials' 6-foot-9 sophomore center Mike Brown "is a fine pivot man," said Tapscott. "We need the kind of effort against him that we had against (Georgetown's) Patrick Ewing."

If Tapscott is wary, then George Washington Coach Gerry Gimelstob is the epitome of caution.

"American is no surprise team to me," he said. "They went to the NIT last year, they won more than 20 games and they have their whole team back. Anyone who thinks they are a surprise doesn't know very much about basketball."

Gimelstob said starting guard Mike O'Reilly would not play because of a bruised left thigh and guard Troy Webster was "doubtful" with a pulled groin muscle.