“It was a good game,” John Thompson III said, drawing a round of laughter from the onlookers at his postgame press conference.

It was perhaps the grandest oversimplification in the history of Georgetown basketball – a line which, even for its understatement, ran over and over again on ESPN.

Thompson’s Hoyas took the flashes of brilliance shown for stretches of their matches against Connecticut and West Virginia and played with persistence and intensity for 40 entire minutes. The payoff: a victory the likes of which the Hilltop has not seen in 20 years.

The contest played out in one of few possible ways that could end with the unranked Hoyas knocking off the top team in the land and ending the Blue Devils’ unbeaten streak at 17. One small change – from Shelden Williams hitting his two shots in the first three minutes to Georgetown’s starters missing a few more free throws as the game clock wound down – and the game may have ended differently.

Georgetown looked nothing like the team that barely mustered 50 points and eked out a win against lowly South Florida just four days prior. There were no similarities between the Hoyas’ play on Tuesday night and Saturday afternoon, save for the results: a three-point win in both contests.

In beating No. 1 Duke, Georgetown managed something it hasn’t done well all season – an offense running on all cylinders. Five players scored in double figures. Brandon Bowman and Jeff Green, always believed to be the powerhouses of the Hoya attack, were first and second in scoring, combining for 40 points.

Darrel Owens again came through when his team needed him, playing 34 minutes, second only to Bowman’s 37. But this time Owens was bolstered by 74 points from his teammates.

And when it wasn’t one of those three, it was Ashanti Cook coming down with a rebound in the midst of three Blue Devil players or Jon Wallace putting a spin move on a Sean Dockery and driving to the basket. There were assists on 24 of the Hoyas’ 32 baskets, offering a glimpse into how much of a team game it was.

But focusing on the offense takes away from the incredible effort on the defensive end. Shelden Williams, who averages nearly 18 points a game, was held to just four. As a team, Duke was held to 40 percent shooting in the first half. Not bad, but critical with Georgetown shooting 67 percent on its own end.

It was the Hoyas who led 20-16 after 10 minutes, the same Hoyas who looked woeful while putting up just 13 points in the first half against Illinois a month and a half ago.

When all was said and done, it turns out a Thompson-run offense had never witnessed an outing of so many points. And it silenced doubters who associated Georgetown offense with the team that went to Champaign, Ill., the last time the Hoyas played before a national television audience.

A Class of Redemption

The father of Georgetown basketball, John Thompson Jr., embraced many of his son’s players as they left the student-mobbed court and headed for the locker room – surely one of the most jubilant in the recent history of Hoya hoops.

The younger Thompson acknowledged how much the win meant to his senior class.

“We’ve come close, we’ve been there, we’ve been at the other end of some lopsided defeats,” he said. “And for that group to win this game, for that group to experience that, is special.”

Bowman, Owens and Cook came out to talk to the press after the game – a trio all too happy to put the days of cake-walk non-conference schedules, blowout Big East losses and national coaching searches out of their minds forever.

Bowman said he too knew the pressure was on – or rather that the pressure had been on since the 2005-06 schedule was announced.

“They [the students] have been talking about it since we got back here for senior year – `Beat Duke!'” Bowman said.

Georgetown gave J.J. Redick his 41 points. (Thompson said, “I was hoping that we could limit everyone else. He’s going to score anyway.”) Duke gave Georgetown its back-door cuts. In the end, it was Mike Krzyzewski conceding an 87-84 defeat to Thompson.

Krzyzewski tipped his hat to the Hoyas for their intensity, then said his team had fallen victim to “J.J. watching.”

“We might as well get tickets and sit behind the bench,” Krzyzewski said. “No one is doing anything out there.”

A Birthday Miracle?

With just over a minute to play, Owens hurled the ball from one end of the court to the other, hitting Bowman in stride and giving the 6-9 senior the perfect opportunity for a monster dunk. Georgetown 82, Duke 74, 1:15 to play. Owens faced the students and pointed toward the heavens.

Little did he know that he would have the unpleasant task of guarding Redick on the game’s final play. But the ball would get nowhere near Duke’s most valuable player, and Bowman would dive on a loose ball in the final seconds to put the final touch on a memory for the ages.

Celebrating his 23rd birthday the day before, Owens could have asked for no better present.

“Coach Thompson’s been preaching since he got the job, since day one, that with hard work anything can happen,” Owens said.

Was it a miracle? As one student’s poster read, “God is on our side.”

For one day, He may have shown it. And for one day, the Georgetown Hoyas were once again the talk of the sporting universe.

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