- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 19, 2001

Georgetown vs. Virginia: Rarely has such a sporadic series provided so much drama.

Over the last 25 years, the Hoyas and Cavaliers have faced each other in men's hoops just four times. But those four meetings have featured five overtimes, four All-Americans, three stuck officials, two 7-footers and a Hall of Fame inductee.

Seriously, the sheer volume of suspense, subplots, unlikely heroes and household names that have defined the first four games could fill a sizeable tome. And while the anticipation for the coming clash can't match the hypeathon surrounding Sampson vs. Ewing in 1982, history tells us we can expect a gem when No. 5 Virginia (6-0) meets No. 16 Georgetown (9-1) tomorrow night at MCI Center.

• • •

March 1978

NIT first round

University Hall, Charlottesville

Georgetown 70, Virginia 68 (OT)

Virginia finished its regular season 20-8 behind the Kentucky freshman connection of Jeff Lamp and Lee Raker, and the Cavaliers were heavily favored to beat the Hoyas at home.

"We went down there without our best player, [senior guard] Derrick Jackson, who earlier that season had become the school's all-time leading scorer but was out with a bleeding ulcer," remembers Georgetown coach Craig Esherick, then a senior off-guard at Georgetown who took Jackson's spot in the starting lineup. "I remember spending the whole night chasing Lamp around."

An ice storm crippled the Charlottesville area on the night of the game, stranding the scheduled officiating crew outside the city.

"It was a nightmare outside," remembers longtime Georgetown broadcaster Rich Chvotkin, now in his 28th year as the voice of the Hoyas. "The regular officials couldn't get there, so they called in a group of local high school refs to do the game. I remember coach [John] Thompson was hot about that, but they played and it was some game."

Enter the first surprise hero of the series. With less than 30 seconds to play in overtime, Virginia had the ball under the Georgetown basket with the score tied at 68-68.

"I had been fussing at Mike Riley all night," says Hall of Fame Georgetown coach John Thompson, now an analyst with TBS. "When they were getting ready to take the ball in, I looked down the bench at Mike and told him, 'We're in trouble. Get in the game and get me that ball.'"

Riley did just that. The team's defensive jitterbug, now a Georgetown assistant, heard one Virginia player tell another which way they were going to break out of the inbounds stack. Knowing the play, Riley immediately slipped to the right spot in the Virginia stack and drew a charge. He then made both free throws at the other end to cement the Georgetown victory.

"It was a hell of a play to be that in-tune to the game," Esherick says. "And then he finished the play by making both free throws with the game on the line."

December 1982

Capital Centre, Landover

Virginia 68, Georgetown 63

In the most anticipated college hoops meeting the city ever had witnessed, 7-foot-4 All-American senior center Ralph Sampson led No. 1 Virginia into Landover for a showdown with No. 3 Georgetown and 7-foot sophomore All-American Patrick Ewing.

"I cannot ever recall a regular season game getting more attention and more notoriety than Sampson vs. Ewing," Thompson says. "That was the buzz around the city for weeks before, and it had been so well publicized that it was almost an international event. That was a true clash of the titans."

Sampson and Ewing shared space on Sports Illustrated's college basketball preview issue that season, sparking nearly two months of hype leading up to the matchup.

"I remember looking at the cover comparing his arms to mine, and I looked like I had a chicken wing," says Ewing, who looked strikingly younger and smaller than Sampson at the time. "He was all pumped up, and I thought he must have been in the weight room lifting before the shoot."

The battle of the twin towers did not disappoint, and Georgetown knotted the score at 59-59 on a 20-footer from freshman David Wingate with 3:47 remaining. The Cavaliers did not score again from the field but hit nine of 10 free throws down the stretch to pull away.

"That was before the 3-point arc and the shot clock, so there wasn't any floating around and sticking jumpers from the outside," Chvotkin remembers. "It was cram it inside hoops. And each possession was just a pound-for-pound war between Sampson and Ewing. Pat had a good game [16 points, eight rebounds, five blocks] and threw one dunk down right over Sampson that is still one of the most intimidating things I've ever seen on a court. But Sampson was the man that night. He just owned the inside, and I think he almost came away with a triple-double [23 points, 16 rebounds, seven blocks]."

Says Ewing: "It was a great game to play, and I hope it was a great game to watch. They show it on [ESPN] Classic a lot, and the outcome is still the same. I still get [upset]. It was a battle.

"Ralph was the biggest guy I ever played in college. I remember posting up, getting the ball, and when I looked up I just had to keep looking. I remember thinking, 'Man, this guy is huge,' and just throwing the ball back out. … Ralph was the man at the time. He was the best center in college."

• • •

December 1991

ACC-Big East Challenge

Greensboro Coliseum

Virginia 76, Georgetown 66 (OT)

Even the least memorable game in the series featured two top-20 teams and went into overtime. Virginia's frontcourt tandem of Bryant Stith (24 points) and Junior Burrough (21 points) frustrated Georgetown senior All-American Alonzo Mourning (16 points) into a sub-par performance.

"All I remember about that game is Mourning had trouble getting the ball because Virginia was sagging on him, and the Hoyas couldn't get anyone to make them pay by hitting from the outside," Chvotkin says.

Mourning attempted only 10 shots. Georgetown's designated gunner, Charles Harrison, made just one of his nine 3-point attempts. And the Cavaliers dominated the overtime period.

"I had totally forgotten that game, perhaps on purpose," Esherick says.

• • •

March 2000

NIT first round

University Hall, Charlottesville

Georgetown 115, Virginia 111 (3OT)

The most memorable game of the 2000 postseason did not occur in the NCAA tournament.

"That NIT game between Virginia and Georgetown was the most exciting game of the year, no doubt about it," Dick Vitale says.

The Cavaliers came into the game 19-11, feeling slighted by the NCAA tournament committee, but had no answers for Georgetown sophomore point guard Kevin Braswell, who hit huge shot after huge shot en route to a career-high 40-point explosion.

This game was such a sweat-sopping, body-bashing, cardiac-causing duel that when Braswell missed a 3-pointer at the end of the second extra period to force a third overtime, Virginia coach Pete Gillen jumped to his feet and demanded an ovation for the show.

He got it, and then the crowd of 8,251 got five more minutes of frenzied basketball. This game was so wild that Georgetown walk-on Gharun Hester, a wide receiver on the football team who had played a total of 43 minutes all season, sank the most important shot of the night, drilling the only 3-pointer of his career with 30 seconds remaining in the third overtime to give the Hoyas a 112-109 lead they never relinquished.

"It wasn't a play we designed it was just instinct taking over," said Hester, emerging from the shadows like Riley to become a hero in the series. "Not in my wildest dreams did I ever think I'd be taking a shot of that magnitude for this team."

The game provided something of a landmark victory for Esherick, then in his first full season as Georgetown's coach.

"I was so exhausted after that game that I just went and sat on the bus by myself after the postgame interviews," Esherick remembers. "I was too emotionally spent to do anything else.

"It was so hot and humid in that building that we were all wiped out. I remember when we first got back to the locker room, I asked one of the trainers where Lee [Scruggs] was, and I was told he was with the doctors getting fluids. About that time, Kevin sprawled out on four or five chairs and started screaming in pain. He was cramping up so bad, we had to send him to get an IV as well. It was just that kind of game unreal."

• • •

December 20, 2001

MCI Center

No. 16 Georgetown (9-1) vs. No. 5 Virginia (6-0)

We can only hope the Hoyas and 'Hoos author another classic tomorrow night. The oddsmakers say Virginia by eight points. History says we should expect overtime.

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