St. John's could play Georgetown every day for the rest of the year and the result likely would be the same each time.
Today, in their fourth meeting this season, Georgetown played with all its majesty, and it didn't make a bit of difference that St. John's played pretty well itself.
The top-ranked Hoyas, behind the splendor of Reggie Williams and David Wingate, won this NCAA semifinal, 77-59, at Rupp Arena and advanced to Monday night's title game against Villanova, a team Georgetown beat twice during the Big East season.
This fourth meeting of the season -- the last three won by Georgetown -- produced no new answers for St. John's (31-4) but did create some new problems for the Redmen. Chris Mullin, St. John's all-America guard, was held to four baskets -- only one in the second half -- due largely to Wingate's superb defense in a box-and-one defense.
Mullin, who averages 20 points per game, had scored in double figures 101 consecutive games. Until today. "They not only cut down my scoring a whole lot," he said, "but they cut down my passing game, too." He ended with one assist.
By the time Mullin finally scored in the second half, with 10 minutes left to play, Georgetown was cruising along with a 57-46 lead. The game, in effect, was over.
So Georgetown (35-2), which has won 17 straight games since losing to St. John's and Syracuse in late January, will have a shot at being the first team since UCLA in 1973 to win consecutive NCAA titles.
The Hoyas lost an early 10-point lead, held a four-point advantage at halftime, then broke open the game by scoring the first seven points of the second half. From there, the result was never in doubt.
Williams led all scorers with 20 points, but his status for Monday's title game is in doubt because he reinjured an ankle and limped off the floor toward the end of the game. Georgetown Coach John Thompson said he wouldn't know any more about Williams' injury until Sunday.
Williams formed a fearsome offensive tandem with all-America center Patrick Ewing, who scored 16 points. Both benefited greatly from the playmaking of point guard Michael Jackson, who had 11 assists and only one turnover.
Willie Glass scored a team-high 13 points for the Redmen; Walter Berry and Bill Wennington each finished with 12. But even though St. John's shot 55 percent against Georgetown, a season high for an opponent, the Redmen just got lost in a Hoya wave.
St. John's Coach Lou Carnesecca called Georgetown's victory "decisive, just like the last two.
"I put them with the great San Francisco teams with Bill Russell and K.C. Jones," Carnesecca said. "And I put them with the great Kentucky teams of Alex Groza (1948 and '49 NCAA champs), the great UCLA teams and the great Indiana team (1976) which won the title and produced five pro players.
"We tried everything. But when a club like Georgetown can perform at that level of proficiency, there's very little anyone can do."
Carnesecca did try everything, but nothing could gain his team an advantage. He called a timeout four minutes into the game because Mullin had barely touched the ball.
"They defended so well," Carnesecca said. "Don't forget, Chris has faced a box-and-one for four years. But Georgetown, oooh, they played it so well."
Georgetown did everything well today, except during a short stretch of the first half. St. John's scored 10 straight points to tie it at 26 with just under six minutes before halftime.
But Williams countered with a driving basket that gave Georgetown the lead for good, 28-26. When Mark Jackson missed a jumper for St. John's, Horace Broadnax countered with a jumper that extended the Hoyas' lead to four. A traveling violation by Wennington led to Williams' hook shot for 32-26, and Georgetown held a 32-28 halftime lead.
Whatever confidence St. John's gained from its semicomeback must have been shot to bits in the first three minutes of the second half. Bill Martin (12 points, seven rebounds) started with a layup for 34-28.
One of Mullin's four turnovers led to a free throw by Wingate for 35-28. Michael Jackson's steal set up Williams for an easy layup, and another turnover by Mullin put the Hoyas in a three-on-one fast break that resulted in another layup by Williams. By then, Georgetown had rebuilt its lead to 39-28, prompting Carnesecca to call time again. The Redmen would not get closer than nine points.
The Hoyas had done exactly what Thompson wanted them to do. "We wanted to get the ball out and run," Thompson said. "I told them, we are a good ball club but we have to attack."
Or as reserve guard Horace Broadnax said, after making three of four shots, "We don't like anyone to dictate the tempo to us. We like to get people looking up at the scoreboard, five or 10 points behind and saying, 'We gotta catch up, we gotta catch up.' That's a big psychological advantage."
Thompson was unhappy with the officiating at the end of the half, berating the officials for not calling a foul when Martin went up for a short jump shot in the final seconds before intermission. Thompson stayed on the court for a few minutes and was booed by the crowd when he left to join his players in the locker room.
Following the game, Thompson said he simply was telling the referees he wanted them to be consistent in their calls.
The biggest psychological advantage may have been holding Mullin, player of the year in some wards, to eight points, and without even a shot for a stretch of nearly 15 minutes. In St. John's previous four games in this tournament, Mullin had produced (by points or assists) 45 percent of its offense. Today, it was 17 percent.
Mullin did not score in double figures for just the fifth time in 125 games at St. John's.
Thompson sent Wingate to mark Mullin in the other two games Georgetown won, but Mullin scored at least 20 in each.
"David's quick," Thompson said, "but Mullin's shrewd. There are very few people in the country who know how to get open as well as Chris Mullin. We worry about his passing more than his shooting; we concede his shooting.
"David is an offensive-minded person," Thompson continued. "He thinks shoot first and then thinks defense. But he deserves a hell of a lot of credit today."
"I ought to know how to play a box-and-one; I faced it enough all through high school," Wingate said, laughing.
Mullin, not surprisingly, called Wingate's stifling defense "frustrating" and said it felt like he was "just running around" trying to get the ball.
Even so, St. John's shot 58 percent the first half. Wennington, a 7-foot center, scored 10 points and got four rebounds to none for Ewing.
The Hoyas' only deficiency that first half, in fact, was in rebounding, but they more than made up for that by the end of the game. Of Georgetown's 29 rebounds, 16 were on offense.
In two possessions, Georgetown got eight shots at the basket and scored on the fourth shot each time. That statistic is even more remarkable, considering Ewing got no rebounds in the first half and five for the game.
But the last thing the Hoyas have to worry about is statistics. For the third time in four years, Georgetown will be in the championship game, 40 minutes from another NCAA title.