The last time Georgetown and Pittsburgh faced each other, a bowling ball of a freshman named DaJuan Blair outmuscled the Hoyas for 10 of Pittsburgh’s 41 rebounds in a winning effort in the Big East Tournament Final at Madison Square Garden.

Fast forward to 2009 and the faces are different for Georgetown, but the result on the glass is the same as Blair and the Panthers pushed the young Hoyas around for a 48-to-23 rebounding advantage in their 70-54 romp in Verizon Center.

It was a matchup of Georgetown’s biggest weakness – the Hoyas entered the game averaging just one more rebound per game than their opponents – against one of Pittsburgh’s biggest strengths – the Panthers are outrebounding their opponents 41-to-31 this season. And like in their meeting last year, Blair, now a sophomore, and the Panthers were able to exploit their advantage for 24 second chance points.

“It takes a lot of hard work and execution to get to [this] point,” Pittsburgh Head Coach Jamie Dixon said. “I think that rebounding is a strength of ours. We’ve been one of the best in the country.”

The Panthers fell victims to Georgetown’s smothering defense shooting 41 percent from the field in the first half, and an abysmal 3-of-19 from three-point range for the game, but Pittsburgh was able to control its own misses throughout the game.

No sequence was as symptomatic as a Pitt possession early in the second half. With the score tied at 40-40 with 14:12 left in the second half after a three pointer by junior forward DaJuan Summers, the Hoyas looked to have the momentum shifted in their favor. In the ensuing possession the Hoyas’ defense would force three misses by Pittsburgh only to see the Panthers manage three consecutive offensive rebounds before Sam Young put in his own miss to give the lead back to the visitors 42-40 for a lead that would stick the rest of the game.

“They took tough contested shots that they missed, but they did a good job of coming up with it. Is that deflating? Yes it is, but then we have to be experienced enough, tough enough that when that happens that we come down and execute at the offensive end,” Georgetown Head Coach John Thompson said.

Georgetown, however did not respond at their offensive end, turning the ball over twice in the midst of an 11-2 Pittsburgh run.

Young, who grabbed two offensive rebounds in that critical possession, finished the game with eight rebounds, but, like in the Big East Tournament last season, it was Blair who caused the Hoyas the most problems on the glass. Blair finished the game with 17 rebounds, including seven on the offensive end, and 20 points to pace Pittsburgh.

“We joked with him the last couple of days that he was going to be well rested because the Rutgers game, he played eight minutes in that game. So he had a lot of legs and he was ready to go.” Dixon said of Blair. “He’s been very good and he’s getting better.”

While it was freshman center Greg Monroe who has received most of the hype this season, particularly after his performance against Connecticut, the shorter but stronger Blair – he is listed as four inches shorter than Monroe, but 15 pounds heavier – took it to him underneath the basket.

“He’s real strong,” Monroe said after the game. “He knows how to use his strength and he is actually deceptively long.”

With a road contest against reigning Big East Player of the Year Luke Harangody and Notre Dame looming, the Hoyas will look to ease their rebounding woes.

“I don’t think it’s a question of tactics, or method, or go watch a new video to figure out what to do,” Thompson said. “I think we just have to go get the ball,”

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