When Georgetown has Reggie Williams and David Wingate playing well simultaneously, the Hoyas are very difficult to beat. When those two are joined by Michael Jackson and Horace Broadnax, as they were tonight in the Civic Center, look out.
The Hoyas shot 68 percent in the second half, and held Connecticut to one field goal in the final seven minutes to break open a two-point game and run away with an 80-63 Big East victory over the Huskies before 13,838.
Only five players scored for the 11th-ranked Hoyas -- "That may have happened before, but it's the first time I can remember it," Coach John Thompson said -- but all five were in double figures, and four shot spectacularly.
Wingate, in his third straight incredible shooting performance, made nine of 14 to finish with a team-high 22 points. Williams, despite a sore ankle, made seven of 10 and scored 17; Jackson made six of nine and totaled 16; center Ralph Dalton hit three of four for 10.
It was the seventh straight victory for Georgetown (18-3, 8-2 in the Big East), which is beginning to play the kind of spirited basketball Thompson expects from his team in February.
"They're a lot better now than when we played them earlier this season," Connecticut Coach Dom Perno said. "It used to be that you could key on Reggie Williams. But now they've got Horace Broadnax going, and Michael Jackson sticking those jump shots. You knew Wingate and Williams could do it, now they've got four guys. They're really tough right now."
Even so, Georgetown had a 12-point lead knocked down to 59-57 with 6:58 left to play. Connecticut's Earl Kelley, one of the most underrated point guards in the nation, had scored several of his 22 points in the comeback.
Thompson called time at 6:43. About seven minutes earlier, Jackson had come out of the lineup limping (with a sore ankle, nothing serious) and Thompson had made some substitutions he would rather not have.
"We needed to regroup," Thompson said. "With the substitutions, some confusion had set in. I told them we had lost the lead, but we weren't losing. I told them, 'Look at the time, look at the score. Just play your game, you've been there before.' "
No rhyme was intended, and the Hoyas got the message.
Twenty seconds after the timeout, Jackson bombed one from 20 feet that put the Hoyas ahead, 61-57. And when Kelley missed a tough shot in traffic, Broadnax launched one from about 18 feet that made it 63-57.
The only Connecticut field goal the rest of the night was scored inside by center Tim Coles, to bring the Huskies within 70-61 with three minutes to play.
Thompson had put Wingate on Kelley when Jackson limped to the bench, and Kelley mustered only a pair of free throws the rest of the night.
The long jumpers by Jackson and Broadnax seemed to demoralize the Huskies (11-7, 2-6) a bit. "If you have to give up a shot, that's it," Perno said. "You don't want them to get it inside to Dalton. But they just stuck 'em. They've got so many answers. It's the sign of a great team. Those jumpers took them from a two-point lead, to up six."
The jumpers and Wingate's defense on Kelley the final few minutes enabled Georgetown to remain unbeaten (10-0) in the Civic Center.
More importantly for Georgetown, Thompson says he is starting to see improvement in several areas, including the incorporation of fast-breaking with half-court patience, and shot selection.
Thompson even screamed at Perry McDonald and Jaren Jackson early in the game for overpassing.
McDonald had started for Wingate, who experienced some pregame wardrobe problems. It seems that when Wingate took his warmup off for the game's start, he discovered he had put his T-shirt on over his jersey instead of under it. With the T-shirt obscuring his number, he would have received a technical, so McDonald was sent in.
"I was ready to hit him in the head after the game," said Thompson, smiling. "I had some choice words for him."
One area of real concern for the Hoyas tonight was that they gave up too many offensive rebounds, 10 in the first half. "We're still giving up too many second shots," Thompson said.
Connecticut's 14 offensive rebounds for the game helped the Huskies edge Georgetown, 37-35, in total rebounds, which is why Thompson isn't as impressed with the phenomenal outside shooting as others are.
"I don't believe you can win national championships with that," he said. "You've got to have power. It scares me that Connecticut was getting so many second and third shots."
The problem for the Huskies was that they couldn't convert enough of those repeat opportunities. Perno was encouraged at halftime, after his team had shot 30 percent but trailed by only one, 31-30. "I figured we had life," he said.
But the Huskies shot only 34 percent after intermission. Freshman Phil Gamble missed 11 of 13.
"They make you work so hard," Perno said. "They keep you off guard, and you can't beat Georgetown like that."