MEN'S BASKETBALL | Rejuvenated Panthers Rip Hoyas
Pittsburgh 72, Georgetown 60
Published: Saturday, January 28, 2012
Updated: Sunday, January 29, 2012 22:01
Georgetown arrived in Pittsburgh looking to keep pace with Marquette and Syracuse at the top of the Big East standings, but was instead dealt a humbling 72-60 loss by the lowly Panthers (13-9, 2-7 Big East). The No. 9 Hoyas (16-4, 6-3 Big East) fell behind early due to an anemic offense that managed only 22 points in the first half, and an inexplicably inconsistent defense prevented the Blue and Gray from ever closing to within one possession.
The main beneficiaries of Georgetown's shoddy defense were Pitt's frontcourt duo of sophomore Lamar Patterson and senior Nasir Robinson, who combined for 41 points on 15-of-17 shooting from the floor. Patterson also dished out seven assists on a night where the Panthers' star guards, senior Ashton Gibbs and junior Tray Woodall, struggled from the field. Gibbs had a quiet 13 points, while Woodall made just one field goal but handed out 10 assists in his third game back from injury.
"Jason [Clark] chased Gibbs around pretty effectively for most of the night," Head Coach John Thompson III said. "They put so much pressure on you to focus on him because he is such a good player and when he's not scoring, he can help other people around. But they had other guys that stepped up."
In a sign of things to come, Patterson buried a long three to open the scoring on the hosts' second possession before Robinson sandwiched two layups around a three from Georgetown's Hollis Thompson. The standout junior forward did not score again until the last minute of the game.
Thompson's struggles were symptomatic of a much larger problem for the Hoyas, who limited their turnovers but struggled to put up points against a team that ranks in the bottom half of the Big East in all major defensive categories. The Blue and Gray relied heavily on their bench in the first half, as freshmen Otto Porter, Jabril Trawick and Greg Whittington combined to score 17 of the team's 22 points. Sophomore guard Markel Starks sat for much of the half after committing two early fouls, and was one of three starters who didn't score in the first 20 minutes (senior center Henry Sims and fellow sophomore Nate Lubick were scoreless as well). With such poor production from its star players, Georgetown was relatively lucky to be down only 11 at halftime.
"I felt we played our best in the first half, but they got some layups in the second half," Pittsburgh Head Coach Jamie Dixon said. "We made them earn their post baskets and that's what we wanted to do."
"We haven't been good on defense all year," Patterson said after the game. "We just wanted to show everyone that we could play defense ... everyone knew that it was something that had to get done."
The Blue and Gray emerged from the locker room a different team, finding the basket on their first six possessions of the second half. A jumper from Sims — who scored on three of those possessions and also assisted on a Starks three — got the Hoyas to within five with just under 16 minutes to go, and it looked like the Blue and Gray had their hosts on the ropes.
"We've been down before to start the game and have [had] to crawl way back into it," Thompson III said. "We crawled our way back into this one and got it back to six a couple times."
Georgetown wouldn't get any closer, though, as the Panthers seemingly had an answer for everything. Woodall and Patterson consistently found wide-open teammates for easy layups and open jumpers, part of an impressive passing effort in which the hosts picked apart Georgetown's poor defense for 20 assists on 25 made field goals.
"It was not good," Sims said of his team's defensive effort. "Transition defense, half court defense, we could have communicated a lot better. There were a lot of things we could have done better. Overall just a bad defensive performance."
"[On] the defensive end, what happened should not have happened," Thompson III lamented. "From lack of communication to lack of effort to breakdown. ... We knew what they were looking for but they just got up and got it"
The win was Pittsburgh's 12th in 12 all-time tries over a top-10 team in the Petersen Events Center, and was its second consecutive win after an eight-game losing streak. The Hoyas will seek to avoid a losing streak of their own when they take the court next, as they return to Verizon Center to host No. 23 Connecticut Wednesday. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.