- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 25, 2004

Georgetown learned yesterday just how far it needs to go to reach Duke’s level.

Center Shelden Williams scored a career-high 26 points on 12 of 15 shooting, as the top-ranked Blue Devils coasted to an 85-66 victory before a record 20,193 at MCI Center.

The biggest crowd ever to watch a Hoyas home game saw Duke maul Georgetown in the paint by scoring 54 of its 85 points from point-blank range. Eyewitnesses included CIA Director George Tenet, Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis, Boston Celtics coaching legend Red Auerbach and Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage.

Williams, a powerful 6-foot-9 sophomore, could not be stopped. The Hoyas tried to counter with senior co-captain Courtland Freeman, but he got into foul trouble early.

“We just wanted to pound them,” said Duke point guard Chris Duhon. “We felt [Williams] was the biggest guy and he was going to produce for us, and he did. We kept feeding him, and he did a great job. He was a great finisher around the basket, but he can do better — he should be 14-for-15.”

Williams’ 26 points were a single-game high for a Duke player this season, matching shooter J.J. Redick’s output Wednesday night at Maryland. The Blue Devils (16-1) went to Williams early and often. By halftime, he had 12 points, four rebounds and four blocks.

Georgetown coach Craig Esherick conceded that Duke’s strategy of pounding the ball into Williams was a good idea.

“That accomplished two things,” Esherick said. “Number one, Williams is a good player, and number two, it got our best post player out of the game. Courtland is a big part of what we do, and Courtland has to be on the floor.”

When Georgetown (11-4) started sagging on Williams late in the first half, Duke’s other weapons took over. The Hoyas cut Duke’s lead to 18-16 with 7:34 left before halftime before Duhon, Duke’s superb playmaker, took over. Duhon, who is fourth in the nation with an average 7.2 assists a game, nailed three 3-pointers in just 2:45 to give the Blue Devils a 35-22 lead with 4:21 left before intermission.

Duhon came into the game struggling from behind the 3-point arc shooting 24.2 percent for the season. Duhon, whose 17 points were his second-best offensive outing of the season, made seven of nine shots from the floor. Duhon and Williams combined to make 19 of 24.

“They have a lot of options to go to, and they run it to perfection,” Georgetown guard Gerald Riley said.

The Hoyas can’t dwell on this loss because of a road game tomorrow night against hot Providence (13-3, 4-1 Big East), which shocked No.4 Connecticut yesterday. The Friars, behind talented forward Ryan Gomes (20.5 points), have won 10 of their last 12 games.

Georgetown gave Duke a battle for the first 13 minutes but then fell apart as the visitors’ defense clamped down on the Hoyas’ halfcourt offense. For the game, the Blue Devils’ tough man-to-man forced Georgetown to commit 19 turnovers and pressured the Hoyas into a 10-for-31 (32.3 percent) shooting performance in the first half. By halftime, the game was essentially over with the Blue Devils leading 48-24.

Afterward, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski was asked how a prestigious private institution like Duke is able to maintain a high level of excellence while other small private universities like Georgetown have seemingly dropped off the radar screen.

“I think there’s just more attrition whether it be by kids going [to the NBA] early or kids leaving the school going on to another school,” Krzyzewski said. “Georgetown lost [six] kids from last year’s team. When you lose ‘em, you can’t go out and recruit them because it’s late when you lost them, whether it’s [Mike] Sweetney going pro early or a kid [Tony Bethel and Drew Hall] transferring. My feeling is they’ve done a really good job this year weathering that storm. They can get good kids. It doesn’t take that long.”

Judging by yesterday’s result, Georgetown is still at least two players away.


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