LANDOVER -- The Georgetown Hoyas beat the best team in what is perhaps the best conference in the country this season.
And they did it with defense.
Georgetown's frenetic full-court press held junior Ray Allen to a season-low 13 points and broke Connecticut's 23-game winning streak, as the 11th-ranked Hoyas dominated the No. 3 Huskies, 77-65, at USAir Arena last night.
In the only regular-season meeting between the two Big East rivals this season, Georgetown (22-6, 11-4) gave Connecticut (24-2, 14-1) its first conference loss and its first overall since a Nov. 24 overtime defeat to Iowa.
The Huskies, whose winning streak matched the longest in conference history, trailed by as much as 18 in the first half and 20 in the second.
"It's probably the first time in a while a team challenged us, and we didn't respond," said Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun.
The main challenge came from Georgetown's sophomore point guard, Allen Iverson, who led the Hoyas offensively and defensively with a game-high 26 points, six assists and eight steals.
"The little guy is something special," Georgetown coach John Thompson said admiringly of his star, who played all but the final seconds, leaving to a standing ovation from the sellout crowd of 19,035. "When you put judgment in that body, it's unbelievable."
Iverson was the free safety in Georgetown's full-court pressure, but the defensive intensity was a team effort.
Jerome Williams had 12 points and 10 rebounds. Jerry Nichols and Boubacar Aw each added 11 points and helped frustrate the Huskies defensively.
Thompson said his players approached him at practice and said they only played intense defense when they got into trouble. They wanted to play that way the entire game.
"I said I'm all for it," Thompson said. "I don't know anything about offense anyway. We put more pressure on them and it worked."
It worked to the tune of 20 turnovers, 12 in the first half when Georgetown used a 16-1 burst to open a 30-12 bulge with 9:43 remaining.
Point guard Doron Sheffer, who played 37 minutes and led the Huskies with 23 points, said the pressure was to be expected.
"I've been here before when Georgetown played as hard as they did [last night] and we beat them," Sheffer said. "They do it all the time. They're an aggressive team. We have to come with our A game to beat them."
Sheffer himself committed nine turnovers, but Calhoun said he credited eight of them to other Huskies players. "[Sheffer] was sensational," Calhoun said of his point guard, who was 6-for-8 from three-point range. "He can be in my foxhole anytime."
One Huskie who definitely didn't have his A game with him was Allen. He was 1-for-9 in the first half.
In the second half, Allen (5-for-18 overall) briefly caught fire, hitting three three-pointers as Connecticut pulled within 10 points. But Iverson continued to terrorize the Huskies defensively, Nichols hit two clutch three-pointers and Allen disappeared to the bench.
After the game, the Connecticut star was at a loss for words. His 13 points, 10 below his season average, tied his lowest output.
"They just stunned us. They got down on us," Allen said.
"I looked right in his eyes," Iverson said of Allen. "I thought he was going to step out. He didn't."
At least Iverson didn't disappoint the scouts. Thompson made sure Iverson and his teammates were ready yesterday by holding a 4 p.m. practice.
After Georgetown's 81-60 home victory over Memphis on Saturday in which Iverson scored 30 points, the point guard told a reporter he would like the next day off. He didn't get it. The Hoyas practiced Sunday and again yesterday.
That's when the Hoyas told Thompson they wanted to play better defense. "If we play good, solid defense, then we can win some games," Iverson said.
The Hoyas, who were swept in three games against Connecticut last season, aren't satisfied with their 14-0 home record or with yesterday's victory. They have bigger goals in mind.
"I don't know if it's about winning games like this," Iverson said, dressed in a jacket and tie in the locker room. "It's about winning championships."
CONNECTICUT -- King 4-8 0-0 8, Johnson 1-1 0-0 2, Knight 3-8 7-9 13, Sheffer 8-14 1-1 23, Allen 5-18 0-1 13, Jones 0-3 1-2 1, Inyatkin 0-0 0-0 0, Moore 1-4 0-0 2, Hayward 0-0 0-0 0, Klaiber 0-0 0-0 0, Carson 1-1 1-1 3. Totals 23-57 10-14 65.
GEORGETOWN -- Aw 5-6 1-2 11, Williams 6-10 0-0 12, Harrington 4-8 0-0 8, Iverson 11-21 3-6 26, Page 2-5 2-2 7, Touomou 0-0 0-0, Dia 0-0 0-0 0, Nichols 4-7 0-0 11, White 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 33-59 6-7 77.
Halftime--Georgetown 43-31. 3-point goals--C 9-16 (Sheffer 6-8, Allen 3-6, Jones 0-1, Moore 0-1), G 5-12 (Nichols 3-5, Page 1-2, Iverson 1-5). Fouled out--None. Rebounds--C 36 (Knight 10), G 30 (Williams 10). Assists--C 17 (Moore 6), G 14 (Iverson 6). Total fouls--C 14, G 13. A--19,035.