Georgetown advanced to the semifinals of the 16th annual Maui Invitational tonight with a 71-55 victory over Memphis at the Lahaina Civic Center.
The Hoyas will play fourth-ranked North Carolina Tuesday night; Purdue faces Florida in the other semifinal. North Carolina advanced with an 82-65 victory over Southern California.
Although this is the first appearance for the Hoyas in the Maui Invitational, they are no strangers to the islands. They are 21-0 in games played in Hawaii.
The victory was Georgetown's sixth straight over Memphis in a series that dates from the 1983 NCAA tournament Midwest regional. Tigers Coach Johnny Jones recently took over for Tic Price, who resigned last week for personal reasons.
"It was a tough situation for Memphis," said Hoyas Coach Craig Esherick, who took over for John Thompson last midseason. "I'm sure the coaching change was a distraction for them. I know it's a difficult situation for the players and the coaches because I've been there."
Memphis had problems with Georgetown's full-court pressure from the outset. Led by Ruben Boumtje Boumtje down low and Nat Burton out front, the Hoyas went on a 16-point run in the final 1 minute 53 seconds of the first half and the first 3:19 of the second to blow open a close game.
"We did a very good job on defense," Esherick said. "We challenged their shots from everywhere on the court and got better ball movement on offense, particularly in the second half."
The Tigers missed their first eight shots of the second half before Courtney Trask hit a 12-footer to cut Georgetown's lead to 41-27. Georgetown led by 25 points (68-43) en route to raising its record to 2-0. Memphis is 0-1.
The semifinal matchup is Georgetown's first meeting with the Tar Heels since the 1995 NCAA tournament Southeast regional, a game won by North Carolina, 74-64.
"We're looking forward to the opportunity of playing Georgetown," North Carolina Coach Bill Guthridge said. "There's definitely some history between our two programs."
Georgetown moved into the second round by pounding the ball down low in the first half and getting out on the break in the second.
With about eight minutes left, Memphis had made 10 baskets in 54 attempts. Hoyas assistant coach Chip Simms did a good job scouting Memphis, a team on which he was an assistant for two seasons prior to joining Esherick's staff this year.
Both teams played a ragged first half, combining for 24 turnovers and 25 fouls. Memphis managed only two field goals in the first 11 minutes of the second half, and finished 16 of 72 from the field, including 3 of 21 on three-point attempts, for a dismal 22 percent.
Georgetown wasn't much better, but the Hoyas were able to build five-point leads three times, only to see Memphis draw even or take a one-point lead.
Courtland Freeman's putback at the 4:10 mark gave Georgetown a 25-20 lead, but Memphis quickly rallied on a three-pointer by Trask and a layup by Aaron Mulvagh to tie it at 25-25 with 2:35 left.
Esherick called a timeout. It worked. The Hoyas outscored the Tigers 7-0 in the final two minutes of the half to take a 32-25 lead into intermission.
Guard Kevin Braswell led the Hoyas with 17 points. Burton added 13. Memphis played without starting center Kelly Wise, who did not make the trip because of failure to follow athletic department academic requirements.