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Senior guard Jonathan Wallace

NEW YORK – If a 7-foot-2 tree of a basketball star falls in the World’s Most Famous Arena, will anybody hear? Not if your guards combine for 43 points and can knock down shots from SoHo.

With Roy Hibbert doing his best Shawn Bradley impression, Jonathan Wallace and Jessie Sapp turned the Big East quarterfinals into their own NBA three-point contest. No, that’s not a typo – I say NBA because the majority of Wallace’s and Sapp’s 11 treys came from behind the extended stripe at Madison Square Garden, the one normally reserved for Stephon Marbury and the rest of the erstwhile New York Knicks.

For the first and only time in the history of civilization, Hibbert towed the same stat line as his still raw understudy Vernon Macklin: zero points, four rebounds, and five fouls. By swatting at Nova’s big men like a blindfolded first-grader playing Pin-the-Tail-on-the-Donkey, Hibbert got himself into foul trouble early and spent the afternoon on the bench. John Thompson III called on Macklin for relief, who responded by playing some more own slaphappy defense in the post.

As the Georgetown frontcourt frantically racked up silly fouls, the backcourt calmly stroked the three. Wallace and Sapp joined DaJuan Summers, Austin Freeman and Chris Wright to shatter the school record for three pointers and tie the Big East tournament record.

aybe Sapp and Wallace placed a call to Tracy McGrady and Rafer Alston and asked them what to do when your 7-footer goes missing. For the past 20 games, McGrady and Alston have picked up the slack for the Houston Rockets after Yao Ming went down for the season. Today at the Garden, a cautious Alabama farm boy and a gun-slinging Harlem street baller teamed up to save the Hoyas.

“These two were terrific today,” John Thompson III said, nodding at Sapp and Wallace, who sat smiling beside him on the press conference podium. “Jon got us going, kept us going in the first half, and Jessie made some plays in the second half.”

For all we know, watching Hibbert flounder might have turned Thompson’s stomach into one giant ulcer. If it did, the fourth-year coach didn’t let on as much afterwards, choosing to comment instead on the positives he drew from his team’s most fluid game of the season.

“To say Roy had a tough time getting into rhythm would be an understatement,” Thompson said. “The nature of our team is when any particular guy is not doing well, we have other people that can step up, and our team is confident in everyone.”

Players like Summers, who poured in 15 and contributed three clutch threes to the barrage. Or Patrick Ewing Jr. who showed everyone why he was given the first-ever Big East Sixth Man Award earlier in the week. Ewing had his usual inglorious seven and nine, but as always, his impact was felt keenly.

Ewing’s emotiveness almost had him keeping time with Hibbert and Macklin in the sin bin. The rambunctious swingman drew a technical in the first half for flippantly tossing the ball in the air after a foul call and should have been smacked with another after turning the rim into his personal pull-up bar following a thunderous second-half dunk.

“They could amputate my legs and I’d still be playing,” Ewing told reporters after the game.

Hibbert’s ineffectiveness is more than likely nothing but a fluke, for Jay Wright has always been Hibbert’s arch-nemesis. Maybe it’s because Wright has the inside scoop on Georgetown’s Goliath after spending time with Hibbert this summer as coach of Team USA basketball. Or maybe Big Roy gets distracted by the GQ suits the dapper Wright sports on the sideline. Whatever it is, of all the brilliant coaching minds in the Big East, Wright has been the only who has found a way to limit Hibbert over the star center’s four year-career.

“We let everyone else make threes so he couldn’t score,” Wright said with a sheepish smile when asked about his giant slaying tactics. “That wasn’t the plan though. We did a great job getting the ball inside and being aggressive with him and getting him into foul trouble.”

The strategy nearly worked. Despite being down 11 at the half, Wright’s group stormed back and took the lead early in the second, an NCAA tourney bid hanging in the balance and a preseason Big East Player of the Year languishing on the bench.

“At halftime, we felt like we were doing a good job of getting to the foul line,” Wright said. “In the second half, we just didn’t get to the foul line and we didn’t make our threes. You can’t live and die by the three.”

Wright was right – you can’t live by three. Georgetown proved that you can thrive by it.

“Coming out Coach just told me to be aggressive, but that didn’t necessarily mean by scoring,” Wallace, who fell six points shy of tying his career high, said. “We were keeping the offense moving really well. I was just getting open looks and stepping up and making them.”

Simple enough. Get open, zone and make it rain like Reggie Miller circa 1995. After all, it’s the Big East Tournament, and it’s Madison Square Garden. The roar of the crowd will drown out the sound of the buzz saw as your redwood topples to the hardwood.

Existential dilemma solved. Ball game won.

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