Pitt men go on the road to roll past Georgetown
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Pitt has had its share of memorable moments against Big East Conference nemesis Georgetown at Verizon Center, from Julius Page's poster-worthy dunk to Jaron Brown's game-winning tip-in to DeJuan's Blair dominant double-double.
The Panthers saved their best for their final regular-season meeting before leaving for the Atlantic Coast Conference, handing the No. 19 Hoyas their most lopsided loss ever in Big East play and their biggest blowout at home in 41 years.
Pitt put on its best performance of conference play, displaying good ball movement, solid perimeter shooting and strong rebounding to jump out to a 15-point halftime lead before cruising to a 73-45 victory over Georgetown Tuesday night before a crowd of 13,011.
“It feels great,” said Pitt senior point guard Tray Woodall, who finished with 11 points, seven assists and four rebounds in 32 minutes. “It's our last time here against them. I'm glad we did it the way we did.”
It was the first conference victory for Pitt (13-3, 1-2), which had lost back-to-back Big East games to Cincinnati and Rutgers, and the 28-point margin represented the Panthers' most lopsided victory in 55 Big East games against the Hoyas (10-3, 0-2). It was Georgetown's largest margin of defeat since a 104-71 loss to Maryland on Dec. 10, 1974, its worst home defeat since a 107-67 loss to St. John's on Dec. 7, 1971 and ranks as the third-largest margin of defeat in any home game in Georgetown history.
“I'm very proud of our guys and how they responded to a disappointing start for us,” said Pitt coach Jamie Dixon, whose Panthers spent the weekend here after the Rutgers game. “I know how good of a team Georgetown is, so it means more. ... They're one of the best programs in the country. We've had a great rivalry, a great tradition. They're a great program with a great coach and great players.”
Where the Panthers struggled in shooting from the perimeter and rebounding in their first two Big East games, they took control of this game from the opening tip. Pitt used a 12-2 run to stun the Hoyas thanks to dunks by Steven Adams and Dante Taylor, 3-pointers by Lamar Patterson and Durand Johnson and a driving basket by Cameron Wright, for a 14-4 edge at 11:43 of the first half.
The Panthers took a 37-22 halftime lead when Woodall fed a court-length pass to Talib Zanna, who had a game-high 15 points, with 23.7 seconds left in the half. All 10 Pitt players scored at least four points as the Panthers shot 57.7 percent (15 of 26) from the field, including 4 of 5 on 3-pointers, in the first half and 55.1 percent (27 of 49) from the field for the game. They also won the rebounding battle, 27-20, and dominated the Hoyas in scoring in the paint (32-16) and off the bench (31-17).
It was Pitt's third-largest halftime lead in Big East road history: The Panthers led Villanova by 22 Jan. 22, 1999, Georgetown by 17 Jan. 12, 2011, and both DePaul (Jan. 22, 2011) and St. John's (Jan. 22, 1995) by 15.
It marked the 77th all-time meeting between the schools and the last in Big East Conference regular-season play; Pitt will join the ACC in 2013-14. Georgetown leads the series, 41-36. It also gave Dixon a 7-6 edge in games against Georgetown's John Thompson III.
Pitt improved to 8-4 at Verizon Center, the best record there by a Big East team against Georgetown. The Panthers have had their share of shining moments at the arena, from Page's dunk over 7-footer Reuben Boumtje-Boumtje in 2001 to Brown's game-winning tip-in with eight seconds left in '02 to Blair's 20-point, 17-rebound performance in a 70-54 victory that ended the Hoyas' 28-game home winning streak in '09.
This was Pitt's first visit to Verizon Center, however, since March 19, 2011, when the top-seeded Panthers lost to No. 8 Butler, 71-70, in an NCAA Southeast Region third-round game. That game saw Gilbert Brown miss a go-ahead free throw and Nasir Robinson subsequently draw a foul on the rebound with 0.8 seconds remaining, setting the stage for Butler's Matt Howard to make the game-winning free throw.
This time, the only heartbreak belonged to the Hoyas, who didn't have a player score in double figures. Otto Porter Jr. led Georgetown with nine points as it shot 36.1 percent (13 of 36) from the field, including 2 of 12 from 3-point range.
“It's embarrassing,” said Thompson, who drew a second-half technical foul. “I don't think that's characteristic of who this group is. That was very disappointing.”