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YouTube Gold: Duke-Georgetown 1989

As Duke began to make it clear: they weren't going away

Duke v Georgetown
 LANDOVER, MD - DECEMBER 05: Alonzo Mourning #33 of the Georgetown Hoyas and Christian Laettner of the Duke Blue Devils tips off the ball during ACC/Big Eat Challenge game at USAir Arena on December 4, 1990 in Landover, Maryland
Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

Patrick Ewing and John Thompson put a huge stamp on NCAA basketball in the 1980s. Thompson, who endured disgusting abuse as he built his Georgetown program, had played briefly for Red Auerbach and the Boston Celtics in the 1960s and got a front-row seat to the Bill Russell Show. Russell was in the process of reinventing basketball and making it a much faster, much more athletic game as he started breaks with blocks and rebounds faster than anyone had ever started them before.

Russell was probably the greatest outlet passer in the history of the game and he could pop one off before he hit the ground and sometimes finished the breaks himself.

Young Patrick Ewing could do a lot of that too and was possibly more ferocious.

Three years after he graduated, Thompson had another immensely promising big man, Alonzo Mourning.

Out of Chesapeake, Virginia, Mourning blocked an astounding 27 shots in one high school game and was widely seen, correctly, as Georgetown’s next great big man.

Duke had made the Final Four in 1986 and again in 1988. In 1989, the Hoyas were the #1 seed in the East while Duke was seeded #2. The seedlings held and the teams met in the regional finals.

Duke won of course, 85-77, making Georgetown one more team they passed on the way up to the top of the basketball heap.

But this game was also famous for one particular play. Duke junior Phil Henderson, 6-4, came down the lane and challenged Mourning then posterized him on an incredible dunk.

You don’t see this happen too often but that single play changed the trajectory of Mourning’s career because while he was always respected, he was never again feared in quite the same way.

The Hoyas would get a measure of revenge in the 1990-91 ACC/Big East Challenge when Dikembe Mutombo arrived and gave Thompson a pair of incredible defenders inside but Duke ultimately won the national championship that spring.

Duke lost to Seton Hall in the Final Four after Robert Brickey suffered an injury so we’ll never know how far that Duke team could have gone.

Sadly, Henderson died in 2013, apparently of a heart attack. He was just 44, ironically enough his jersey number at Duke.