No upset: Pitt handles No. 9 Georgetown

No upset: Pitt handles No. 9 Georgetown
January 28, 2012, 11:38 pm
Share This Post

Perhaps it was inevitable No. 9Georgetown would lose Saturday at Pittsburgh. On their home court, the Panthers previously faced 11 teams ranked in the top 10 with nary a loss. Make it a dozen. Maybe it was also predictable the Hoyas trusty defense would eventually sufferan off night. How else to explain the Panthers feasting on open shots around the rim. Unfortunately, the lapses on one end of the court paired up with another wayward first-half offensive effort on the other.The now intact Panthers shot 52.1 percent from the field, the best mark against the Hoyas this season. Pittsburgh fended off several attempted rallies with a seemingly never-ending supply of layups as Georgetowns three-game winning streak ended with a 72-60 loss on Saturday.Previously tied for second-place in the Big East standings with Marquette, the Hoyas (16-4, 6-3 Big East) now trail the Golden Eagles a comeback winner over Villanova - by one game and sit two and a half games behind first place Syracuse. After starting out 0-7 in Big East play and losing eight consecutive games, Pittsburgh (13-9, 2-7) moved out of the conference cellar following its second straight win.Key stretch: Trailing 14-11 with over 10 minutes remaining in the first half, the Hoyas scored just one point over the next seven-plus minutes, missing 10 consecutive field goals. In that stretch the Panthers went on a 15-1 run, taking a controlling 29-12 lead. Comeback-ish: Henry Sims spearheaded an offensive surge after halftime and his reverse layup with 10:40 remaining had the Hoyas down 48-42. Stretches of defensive excellence were included in the near comeback, but the Panthers frequently broke down Hoya defenders with an array of picks that led to point blank opportunities. Down 55-49 after a pair of Greg Whittington free throws with 4:09 remaining, the Hoyas quickly surrendered a dunk and a wide-open layup. Ashton Gibbs maneuvered past Jason Clark for an open layup and the Panthers led 61-49. Stats: Otto Porter sank two 3-pointers and led the Hoyas with 14 points while Hollis Thompson scored 11 and Sims 10, all in the second half. Their first game in a week,the Hoyas shot 33 percent (9-of-27) in the first half with the starters scoring five points. This slow start came on the heels of the 3-of-23 start against Rutgers. The Hoyas defense saved that game, but had no answer for the Panthers Nasir Robinson. The 6-5power forwardwas perfect on nine shots, mostly all within two feet of the basket, and scored a game-high 23 points. Lamar Patterson scored 18 points and Gibbs added 13 points. Travon Woodall,who missed 11 games this season due to injury,directed the precise attack with 10 assists.Passive play without penetration: Too often in the first half the Hoyas settled for side-to-sideperimeter passes without going inside before eventually launching from outside. They were better in this regard after halftime - finished 42.6 percentfor the game- with Sims in particular forcefully scoring on a series of low post moves. Whatever 3-pointers did fall (5-of-17, 29.4 percent) seemingly came on some type of inside-outside passes, but only Clark consistently offered a dribble-drive option.After Markel Starks (five points) picked up two fouls within the opening three minutes, Hoyas coach John Thompson III frequently used a one-guard lineup. The upside, most notably all the length on the court, has been obvious throughout the season, but the lack of efficient ball handlers was apparent in this game. In the bonus midway through the first half, the non-penetrating Hoyas could not take advantage, going six minutes without a free throw attempt.Defense miscues: The Panthers repeatedly crossed upthe Hoyas in full and half court situation, the latter with one successfulpick after another. Nate Lubick seemed particulary victimized,though he was hardly alone. Despite a sincere size advantage, the Hoyas were outrebounded 31-22.Wheres Hollis:Hollis Thompson made just one field over the opening 39 minutes before scoring the Hoyas final four baskets in garbage time. When the Hoyas were still within legitimate shouting distance with over two minutes left, the Big Easts leading 3-point shooter was not on the court. A groin injury limited Thompson against Rutgers and kept him out of two practices this week, but the junior did not appear hobbled against the Panthers.Costly free throws: The Hoyas woes atthe charity stripe no longer qualifies as a cute sidebar. After a 7-of-12 (58.3) performance, the Hoyas have now shot less than 70 percentinsevenof lasteight games, 62.8 percent in that span.Vegas knows things: Despite the disparity in terms of records and place in the conference standings, the Panthers were a one-point favorite.Next: Back home at the Verizon Center on Wednesday, Georgetown hosts No. 24 Connecticut (14-5, 4-3), losers of two straight entering Sundays clash with Notre Dame. The Hoyas lost two games last season against the Huskies, now led by projected NBA lottery picks center Andre Drummond and silky wing guard Jeremy Lamb.