For 40 minutes, Ennis Whatley was a blur. The Alabama guard drove through Georgetown like a speeder on the freeways here.
And Georgetown, one of the best defensive teams in the nation, with some speed of its own, was like a high-quality car trying to run on two cylinders, unable to keep up.
Whatley led No. 6 Alabama's high-speed break that ran Georgetown into its worse loss of the past two years late Wednesday night, winning the Winston Tire Classic, 94-73, at the Los Angeles Sports Arena to remain undefeated.
Whatley distributed the ball evenly enough so that every starter except himself scored in double figures. All Whatley got was nine points, nine assists, six rebounds and the satisfaction that his fabulous feeds helped 6-foot-9 center Bobby Lee Hurt win the tournament's most-valuable-player award and hold his own against Georgetown's Patrick Ewing.
"We didn't get back on defense at all, and they ran the hell out of us," said Georgetown captain Gene Smith.
Georgetown played its second game without Coach John Thompson, who was in Washington, where his mother had died Tuesday night. The 10th-ranked Hoyas were also without Anthony Jones, who is out indefinitely with a dislocated left elbow.
Acting Coach Craig Esherick said after the game: "Everybody feels bad for Coach Thompson, and I'd be insulting your intelligence if I said what happened with his mother didn't affect us. But I'd also be insulting your intelligence if I didn't say that Alabama just outplayed us."
So what happened? Esherick was asked.
"Williams happened," he replied.
That's Terry Williams, a 6-foot-8 forward who before Wednesday night had averaged 8.7 points a game and was the "who?" on the Alabama team.
"Who" made 14 of 15 shots, not one taken from within 12 feet. His 28 points were both the high for the game and a career high. He didn't have any free throws because no Georgetown player got close enough to foul him.
"After I hit the first four, I figured, what the heck," Williams said, the light bouncing off the gold star on his right front tooth. "They kept backing off me and I kept shooting."
"We had some trouble, sometimes, pointing out our men," Esherick said of Georgetown's uncommon defensive problems. "Some of those shots he was hitting, we almost wanted him to take. If we stick a hand in his face, I'm not sure it would have mattered."
Williams sank three jumpers in the first two minutes to help Alabama take an 8-1 lead. An 18-foot fadeaway put the Tide on top, 27-15. Williams' line-drive 20-footer increased the margin to 49-34 at the start of the second half. And a wide-open 15-footer gave Alabama a 73-60 lead with eight minutes to play after consecutive three-point plays by Georgetown had cut a 19-point deficit to 69-60.
"I couldn't believe it," said Hurt. "Neither could he. Terry was shooting BBs, Jack."
When Williams wasn't hitting from the outside, Hurt was hurtin' Georgetown inside.
Hurt scored 17 points and had eight rebounds in a standoff with Ewing, who had 19 points and 13 rebounds.
Several times in the second half, Hurt used his quickness to get underneath Ewing, then rise for the easy layup or a slam-dunk.
"I had to head-fake him," Hurt said. "You can't really stop Ewing from getting his. But I wanted to get mine."
Forward Bill Martin scored a team-high 24 points for Georgetown. David Wingate had 12 and Fred Brown had 10 points and six rebounds, all in the first half.
The Hoyas shot only 38 percent, which reflects their defensive problems as much as poor shooting. When Georgetown plays stifling defense, turnovers and rebounds turn into transition baskets. The Hoyas didn't force that many turnovers, and Alabama's 61 percent shooting (72 percent in the second half) didn't allow for many rebounds.
The vaunted press wasn't employed that much for two reasons. First, as Williams said, "Ennis pays no attention to a press." Secondly, GU defensive star Gene Smith picked up his third foul five minutes into the game.
It was a night Georgetown would rather forget. "Not good" was how Esherick described his two-game stint as acting coach. "I'd rather not have done it," he said. "Both Mike Riley and I talked with Coach Thompson this afternoon, and he gave us some things to try. I'm sure he did listen to the game on radio tonight."
Alabama Coach Wimp Sanderson felt Thompson's absence hurt the Hoyas. "I send my respects to John," Sanderson said. "I hate the circumstances of this game -- that he couldn't be here."