What happened here Wednesday night, for those who had forgotten, was just a reminder of how great a basketball team Georgetown is.
The Hoyas' 85-69 victory over St. John's in Madison Square Garden probably doesn't mean anything in the Big East standings; the Redmen can clinch the regular-season title by beating eighth-place Providence Saturday. But Georgetown could have won a big mind game.
St. John's beating Georgetown by one in late January is one thing, but beating the top-ranked team in the country in its home town by 16 points one game before tournament time is another. As St. John's Coach Lou Carnesecca said, "They were superb in every way possible."
The first way was Patrick Ewing, who scored 20 points on 10-for-13 shooting, had nine rebounds and blocked six shots. That blocked shot total did not include the time he made 7-footer Bill Wennington shoot a one-foot air ball, or the time he made all-America Chris Mullin double clutch and shoot almost entirely over the rim, or the number of times he had 6-foot-8 Walter Berry checking his side-view mirrors.
"This big fellow right here," Thompson said, "what can I say about him that I haven't already said in four years? Patrick was Patrick." Certainly, that was explanation enough.
Second-ranked Georgetown made St. John's pay dearly for its man-to-man defense. Mullin's defense supposedly improved after his Olympic experience with Bob Knight. But he couldn't guard Reggie Williams to save his life Wednesday night. Williams' line score was something to savor: nine of 13 field goals made, seven of eight free throws made, seven rebounds, six assists, three steals. The base line constantly was his on offense. After a midseason shooting slump, Williams has scored 20 or more points in three of Georgetown's last four games.
Slightly overlooked in the flair of all the scoring by Williams and Ewing was David Wingate's performance. He made five of seven shots, got six rebounds and had four assists. And Michael Jackson, with nine assists and only one turnover, now has 17 assists and two turnovers in the last two games.
It was quite obvious the Hoyas played extremely well in ending St. John's 19-game winning streak. But what often goes unnoticed with a team so talented is the job Thompson has done this season. His team has lost only two games all season, but Thompson rarely is mentioned in national or even Big East coach-of-the-year talk.
Thompson's adjustments Wednesday night -- with both the offense and defense -- were instrumental in Georgetown's victory. He changed the defensive press, putting his players behind the Redmen, rather than in front, to prevent the kind of long passes and easy baskets St. John's got in the first game. And offensively, Thompson pulled Ewing (seven shots in the first St. John's game) out of his customary station in the low post and had him curl around in the lane and look for the jumper or hook, which Ewing usually hit.
The Hoyas, going into Sunday's regular-season finale against Syracuse at Capital Centre, have won eight straight and quite clearly are playing well at just the right time.