Georgetown's efficiency today in its 68-47 victory over Connecticut in the Hartford Civic Center could be summed up by one comment by Coach John Thompson: "There's not a lot that I have to complain about right now. I think our kids are working hard."
Working hard and working well. The second-ranked Hoyas, led by Reggie Williams' 20 points, won before 15,685, the largest crowd to see a college basketball game in New England.
Thompson could have complained a bit about his team's offense in the first half, after the Hoyas made only 40 percent of their field goals. But Georgetown (25-2 overall, 12-2 in the Big East) played good enough defense to lead by nine at halftime, and shot 68 percent in the second half en route to the blowout.
Georgetown's defense looked about as good as it has this season, according to Connecticut Coach Dom Perno. "That defense is more intense now than I've seen it all year," he said. "In the first half we did a hell of a job defensively, but we couldn't score against them. At halftime, I was happy to be down only nine points, to tell you the truth."
The pattern of this game was like so many others: the opposing team gets close for a few minutes, only to wear itself out and fall to one of Georgetown's demoralizing streaks.
Today, the Huskies (12-13, 5-8) cut an 11-point deficit to 21-17 on two free throws by Tim Coles with three minutes left in the first half. But Patrick Ewing, who had missed his first three shots, followed David Wingate's missed jumper and scored on a reverse dunk for a 23-17 lead. Williams' steal led to a transition basket by Bill Martin (14 points) to make it 25-17.
After Alvin Frederick missed a jumper, Wingate (12 points) made one of two free throws for a 26-17 lead. Georgetown's biggest problem was that Michael Jackson was called for three first-half fouls trying to guard Connecticut's leading scorer, Earl Kelley, and Ewing got his third a minute into the second half.
Thompson said he thought Jackson was a little too aggressive carrying out his assignment. But Kelley missed all three shots he took in the first half and didn't score until after intermission. "Jackson guarded me the way he had to," Kelley said, "to keep me from getting on track."
Kelley wound up with a team-high 16 points (one under his average), making the opening jumper of the second half to bring the Huskies to 26-19.
But Georgetown scored the next eight points. Williams, who made seven of nine shots, hit one jumper, then another after a missed hook by Coles.
Ewing (eight points, nine rebounds, three blocked shots) stayed in the lineup to dunk a missed shot by Williams and put the Hoyas ahead, 32-19. Williams took advantage of Jackson's steal by scoring again to make it 34-19.
"You know that spurt's coming," said Perno, who has done a good job with a very young team, keeping it in contention for an NIT bid. "We wanted to stay within four, five points, play the game 10 minutes at a time and stay close in each segment. But their defense was just too good. Earl Kelley is in there dead right now. He can't move."
For someone playing only 17 minutes, Jackson had some game. He often was effective guarding Kelley, and had eight assists and only one turnover.
When Jackson was on the bench, Horace Broadnax came through with five assists (only two turnovers), giving Georgetown high-level production from point guard.
Connecticut managed to come within 10 points a couple of times behind the shooting of Kelley, who made seven of 11 in the second half. But Georgetown countered every score and was never seriously threatened. The most memorable play of the day came when Wingate, on a give-and-go, swung a behind-the-back pass on the move to Martin, who made a soft finger roll to put the Hoyas ahead by 15.
The victory, in effect, ended the "regular" season for Georgetown. The Hoyas have two games remaining before the postseason tournaments begin -- Wednesday at top-ranked St. John's and next Sunday against Syracuse. But nothing about those games will be regular.
Thompson agreed they will be like postseason games "because of the fanfare surrounding these two games. The thing I worry about is the emotional level of those two games being followed by the tournament."
Much of the postgame talk today had nothing to do with the victory over Connecticut, but with what will happen in the final week of the Big East regular season.
Connecticut forward Ray Broxton said, "I really don't believe St. John's will beat Georgetown this time. Georgetown's playing really hungry now. They want it again. They're more aggressive now than they were earlier in the season. They look like the champions they were last year.
"That defense is there, that's the thing. Like Pat today. He scored eight points and had only three blocks, but it was a quiet day of intimidation. We knew of his presence. He was up to the top of the square challenging us every time we shot. That's one reason we were so cold (30.4 percent field-goal shooting) in the first half. We were thinking about him.
"They're after it now and it's gonna be hard for anybody to beat them."
Even Thompson allowed, "I think our kids are playing far more alert than they were earlier in the year when we were supposed to be the super team. . . We were worried about this game, and we hadn't really sat down and discussed St. John's. But now is the time to start thinking about St. John's."