It's hard to imagine Phil Ford running a spread offense any more effectively than Georgetown's Michael Jackson did today in the East Regional at Hartford Civic Center.
Twice when Temple closed to eight points, Jackson moved down the lane and scored layups that kept top-ranked Georgetown in command, and the Hoyas took an NCAA tournament second-round victory, 63-46, over Temple.
Jackson, a 6-foot-1 junior point guard, made six of seven shots, scored a team-high 14 points, handed out five assists and committed only one turnover in a near-flawless playmaking and ballhandling performance.
His floor leadership helped get three teammates into double figures, and Georgetown -- the No. 1 seed in the East -- advanced to next week's regional round in Providence, R.I., where the Hoyas (32-2) will take their 14-game winning streak to play Loyola (Ill.), a 70-57 victor yesterday over Southern Methodist.
As brilliant as Jackson's performance was, it was no more significant than Georgetown's defensive job on Temple's leading scorer, 6-8 forward Granger Hall, who averages 18 points per game.
Hindered by foul trouble, Hall played just 21 minutes and scored only seven points as the Hoyas doubled up defensively on him whenever possible.
What made it even worse for Temple (25-6) was that 6-5 forward Charles Rayne, who averages 13 points per game, scored only six, none in the first half. The Owls scored only three inside baskets the entire game, and couldn't score a basket of any kind in the last 5:48 when they trailed by 48-40 and had a chance to cut the deficit to six.
Temple's lack of inside offense put far too much pressure on the Owls' guards, who at times couldn't even see their teammates because of 7-foot Patrick Ewing, who stood atop Georgetown's 1-3-1 zone.
Guard Nate Blackwell, who led all scorers with 15 points, did as much as he could. But handling the Georgetown pressure and trying to be the primary scorer probably was asking too much, especially with no inside help.
"When they want to shut somebody off they accomplish it," Hall said.
Georgetown, which also got 13 points from Reggie Williams and 12 each from Ewing and David Wingate, built a 36-23 lead early in the second half.
Jackson already had increased the lead with a jumper for 40-26 with 13:57 left to play, and that's about when Hall got his fourth foul battling inside with Ewing.
Jackson decided to exploit that situation immediately. "If you look at the replay, you'll see Pat and me holding a discussion on the way down court," Jackson explained. "I told Pat, 'If he's fronting you, I'll throw it over him.' I don't have to aim much, just throw it up; Pat will get it."
Ewing got the first lob pass and slammed it, for a 42-26 lead. After Rayne finally got his first points of the day, Jackson ran the same play for 44-28.
Two missed shots and Jackson's only turnover -- stepping out of bounds -- helped Temple score eight straight points to make it 44-36 on two free throws by Rayne with just over eight minutes to play.
On the next possession, Georgetown spread the court and went to what most people refer to as the four-corners offense, made famous by Ford and North Carolina years ago.
Temple shut off the passing lanes, leaving Jackson with one option. "They were playing the passing lanes pretty tight," he said, "so I had room to penetrate. When you don't have the passing lanes in the four corners, you have to look for the basket."
Jackson shook loose from his man for a basket, and made a foul shot to run Georgetown's lead back to 11 points.
After Blackwell missed a jumper that would have put Temple back within six, Jackson drove down the lane again, this time getting fouled. He hit the first free throw but missed the second, only to find the ball in his hands again after Williams got the rebound.
With his teammates again spread to the corners, Jackson went down the lane for a layup that made it 51-40.
The Hoyas held another little huddle, and, Jackson said, "That time, we decided the 1-3-1 wasn't as effective as it had been earlier in the game; we had given up a couple of easy baskets, and we decided to go man-to-man."
The Owls hit six free throws thereafter and couldn't create any turnovers with Jackson hovering over the ball.
Wingate and Horace Broadnax also ran the "four-to-score" offense. Wingate had an especially fine lose-your-man move around Rayne for a layup.
But the postgame talk mostly was about Jackson. "Mike's great in that offense," teammate Bill Martin said. "He's the best at that who's come along in a long time."