- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 1, 2003

Duke's next.

The Georgetown Hoyas pounded VMI 85-48 yesterday in preparation to take on the Blue Devils, who most likely will be the nation's top-ranked team when the next college basketball poll comes out Monday.

Yesterday, the poor-shooting Keydets were the Hoyas' tuneup fodder for a real opponent.

VMI missed 50 shots from the floor and shot a horrid 24 percent (16-for-66) before 6,631 at MCI Center.

"I guess they must have had an off night," Hoyas power forward Mike Sweetney said.

Sweetney paced the Hoyas with 23 points, nine rebounds, five blocks and two steals. Hoyas freshman guard Ashanti Cook scored a career-high 15 points. Center Wesley Wilson contributed a quiet 12 points and eight rebounds and swingman Gerald Riley added 11 points.

"This was a good game for us going into Duke," point guard Tony Bethel said. "[Duke is] kind of young in the frontcourt and I think we have a very good chance. We should come out of there victorious."

Georgetown (8-1) will find out in a week. The Hoyas play the Blue Devils next Wednesday at Cameron Indoor Stadium, where the Blue Devils are virtually unbeatable.

With No 1. Alabama and No. 2 Pittsburgh both losing games in the past 48 hours, the undefeated Blue Devils (7-0), barring a shocking upset to Fairfield or at Clemson, will undoubtedly move into the top position in the AP poll.

The Hoyas credited their defense for yesterday's rout. The Keydets became the third opponent the Hoyas held under 50 points this season, but at least VMI had a legitimate excuse for its shooting woes.

Sophomore guard Jason Conley, who became the first freshman to lead the nation in scoring last season (29.3 ppg), did not play after injuring his right foot in Sunday's 71-67 victory over Harvard.

Conley is averaging 22.2 points and is a 45 percent shooter.

"[Conley] makes a difference all the time," VMI coach Bart Bellairs said. "He's a big-time player and obviously gives us another dimension."

The Keydets patiently ran their halfcourt offense and got good looks, but could not drop their shots. VMI (5-6) was equally bad from the free throw line. The Keydets made just 13 of 24 free throws (54 percent).

Radee Skipworth, VMI's junior forward, was the Keydets biggest culprit, making just three of 15 shots and finished with a team-high 13 points. Keydets point guard Richard Little scored 11 points on three of 11 shooting, but turned the ball over five times.

"I thought, considering the fact that they didn't have their best player who is their leading scorer and best rebounder, I think they played real hard and gave us a game for a while," Hoyas coach Craig Esherick said.

However, the Hoyas inability to keep opponents off the offensive glass reappeared. Georgetown outrebounded the Keydets 52-43, but allowed VMI to grab 16 offensive rebounds. Luckily for Georgetown, the Keydets didn't know what to do with the ball once they got it.

"I've been on the tail-end of this [blowout] a couple of times being at a small Division I school like VMI, but I don't think I've seen classier kids on a game like this where it's a runaway," Bellairs said. "Georgetown was tough, they're mean, they've got that Hoya reputation, but they also don't get enough credit for being classy. They're the classiest kids we've played against. It was a real privilege to play them. We just didn't finish."

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