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March 15, 2007

Sapp leads Georgetown to rout of Belmont

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - Another John Thompson is hoping for a championship run. Unlike his famous father, the son has a team that relies on patience - not power.

Jessie Sapp scored a career-high 20 points and led the second-seeded Hoyas to an 80-55 victory over 15th-seeded Belmont in the first round of the East Regional on Thursday.

Jeff Green added 15 points and Sapp made a career-high four 3-pointers for the Hoyas (27-6), who advanced to the second round for the second straight year and will renew a one-time Big East rivalry Saturday when they face seventh-seeded Boston College.

Roy Hibbert added 10 points and 13 rebounds for Georgetown, which won its 16th in 17 games by snapping Belmont's seven-game winning streak and dealing the Bruins their second straight lopsided loss in the tournament.

A quarter-century ago, Thompson's father led the physical, intimidating Hoyas to the Final Four. Now, his son's team is showing flashes of similar success - even if the teams' styles are nothing alike.

John Thompson III led Georgetown to its highest seed since Allen Iverson and the coach's father led the Hoyas to a No. 2 seed in 1996. The Hoyas improved to 17-1 in their last 18 first-round games.

With a lineup that included Green - the Big East's player of the year - and the 7-foot-2 Hibbert, the Hoyas showed plenty of reasons why they deserve consideration as a trendy pick to advance from a difficult East bracket that includes powers North Carolina and Texas and reach their first Final Four in 22 years.

Sapp matched his previous career high from 3-point range by halftime, hitting three 3s in a 4-minute span to give the Hoyas more than enough breathing room.

Belmont never got closer than 11 in the second half, and the Hoyas were content to spend the final 20 minutes patiently working the clock while running the younger Thompson's Princeton-style offense.

Andrew Preston had 14 points and Justin Hare added 10 for Belmont (23-10), which looked early on like it might threaten to pull off the tournament's first big upset.

The Bruins raced out to an early 11-4 lead behind Matthew Dotson's 3 off the glass and surprisingly strong inside play against Hibbert.

That all changed when Green and the rest of Georgetown's supporting cast dashed those dreams.

The Hoyas reeled off 11 straight points as part of a 20-4 run, holding the Bruins without a field goal for 8 minutes and taking the lead for good when Green's layup made it 13-11 with 11:23 until halftime.

It was a second straight quick exit from the tournament for Belmont, which also was a No. 15 seed last year in its first-ever appearance in the field of 65 but was routed by UCLA on its way to the national title game.

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