Duke 93, Georgetown 86
Georgetown Coach Craig Esherick had been worried about Duke almost instantly being able to charge itself and the wildest student fans in college basketball with three-point shots.
"It's like a dunk," he said.
Sure enough, after an uncommonly erratic first half, the top-rated Blue Devils hit two three-pointers early in the second half that triggered a 15-1 surge and dealt Georgetown a 93-86 setback tonight at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
It was Duke's 145th victory in its last 148 nonconference home games.
The shots that started the Duke surge were back-to-back threes by guards Chris Duhon and J.J. Redick that pulled Duke (10-0) from a one-point deficit to a five-point lead in the first four-plus minutes after halftime. Duke extended the lead to 13 with three-plus minutes left and was in little danger as Georgetown (8-2) scored six points in the final 15 seconds.
Esherick was pleased with Georgetown's effort, but pegged the turning points on several minutes of Duke offense and a handful of poor choices by his own offense. Power forward Mike Sweetney had a game-high 23 points, but had just 16 shots and was limited to 25 minutes because of fouls.
"Those threes got the crowd going," Esherick said "and we took four probably ill-advised shots."
Georgetown's stretch of hoisting the ball too soon followed Duke grabbing a five-point lead with about 10 minutes left in the game. Tony Bethel put up an air ball from three-point range on the first possession, freshman Ashanti Cook threw a pass out of bounds, Drew Hall shot much too soon and Gerald Riley was off on another quick three.
By that time, freshman Redick had scored on a Victor Samnick goal-tend, freshman inside force Sheldon Williams had two dunks and guard Daniel Ewing a short flip, all off feeds by junior Duhon, and Duke had a 13-point lead with 8 minutes 30 seconds left. Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski called Duhon's passing "magical."
"Get the ball to Mike," Esherick yelled to the team during a timeout that followed that Duke run.
The Hoyas thought the experience tonight will be very helpful in the Big East Conference play that begins Sunday at home against West Virginia.
"If we play this hard and tough," said Hall, "we should be good in the Big East."
Unlike so many teams unfamiliar with the atmosphere that distinguishes Cameron from nearly every other college gym, the Hoyas were not overwhelmed early on. Esherick's concern about Duke's threes was heightened early when Dahntay Jones hit one from the right baseline on the first possession.
But Georgetown proved every bit as aggressive as Duke, and a swiftly paced first half that had each team in foul trouble ended with Bethel making an end-to-end drive for a tough layin that lifted the Hoyas to a 44-41 lead. This was the first time this season the Blue Devils trailed at halftime.
Krzyzewski fussed at an official near midcourt as the teams were trotting to the dressing rooms, and Esherick chuckled nearby. The fans chanted: "Three refs, no clue."
"What a beautiful basketball game," Krzyzewski said. "The intensity from both teams was sensational. Georgetown is a really good team."
There were terrific plays on both sides, and many of Georgetown's came from unexpected sources. Samnick was tough on the boards in place of center Wesley Wilson and also had a lovely feed that Sweetney converted into a dunk.
With so many fouls, Esherick had a lineup on the court for most of the final several minutes of the first half that included seldom-seen Darrel Owens. It was Owens who pulled Georgetown into a 38-38 tie with a dunk off a fast break and followed that with a tip-in off a miss by Drew Hall.
Many of the trends favored Georgetown, with uncommonly erratic Duke making just one of 10 three-point shots and missing nine of 15 free throws. By contrast, the Hoyas were 10 for 13 from the foul line and had six more rebounds.
Both benches were quite good in the first half, with Ewing scoring 10 points in 12 minutes for Duke and Samnick grabbing six rebounds for the Hoyas in nine minutes.