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Senior Woodall provides emotional boost for Pitt

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Pittsburgh guard Tray Woodall (1) works to control the ball next to Georgetown guard D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera (4) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013, in Washington. Pittsburgh won 73-45. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Serving Tray

Pitt point guard Tray Woodall had similar statistical lines in drastically different outcomes the past two games:

Opponent FG-FGA 3FG-3FGA FT-FTA Points Assists TO Steals Min.

Rutgers 3-11 3-9 2-2 11 8 1 2 34

Georgetown 4-9 1-3 2-2 11 7 2 1 32

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Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013, 11:16 p.m.

Tray Woodall didn't just take the blame for Pitt's loss to Rutgers. The Pitt point guard took it to heart, as a reflection of his leadership.

Then, the fifth-year senior took it to Georgetown, serving as the catalyst in the Panthers handing the Hoyas their worst Big East defeat in school history.

“I tried to play with a lot more emotion because it's emotional,” Woodall said after the 73-45 victory Tuesday night at Verizon Center in Washington.

“This is my last year. It's my team. I'm a senior on the team, me and Dante (Taylor). There's more pressure on me. I want it. I embrace it. I started putting more pressure on the ball, making sure I get guys into their sets and making sure everybody is where they're supposed to be.”

Woodall's final statistics were almost identical in those two Big East contests, even though the outcomes were drastically different.

Woodall owned up for launching nine 3-pointers (and making only three) in the 67-62 loss at Rutgers on Saturday. He scored the same amount of points, 11, against Georgetown but not at the expense of his teammates.

“It was definitely a conscious effort,” Woodall said. “Like I said before (at Rutgers), it was fool's gold that we were taking the shots that we thought were open.

“We wanted to make sure we played aggressive and could get to the basket. We have a lot of slashers on this team. We're creative. We're not just out there set as 3-point shooters. We wanted to make sure we got out there and created for others.

“By us creating for others, it opened up lanes to the basket. We've got big guys in there who can score, so we definitely wanted to get those guys touches.”

Woodall did just that, whether it was tossing alley-oops to center Steven Adams or bounce passes into the paint to power forward Talib Zanna.

It wasn't lost on Georgetown coach John Thompson III that all 10 Pitt players scored at least four points, and he credited Woodall for the even distribution.

“Woodall was terrific, there's no doubt about it,” Thompson said. “He had the ball in his hands, and he was very good. He makes them go, and he made them go.”

Woodall showed signs of toughness when he returned for the second half after taking an elbow in the throat from Georgetown center Jabril Trawick.

Jamie Dixon was pleased with how Woodall worked to improve his defense, long a point of contention for the Pitt coach. Woodall helped hold Georgetown's Markel Starks to six points, with no assists and four turnovers.

“It was something we talked about,” Dixon said. “The aggressiveness we had out front was key, and I think that came from him and from James (Robinson) but specifically from him. We've challenged him to become something that he hasn't done defensively for us, to try to improve and get better in his senior year. He responded in a big way.”

Kevin Gorman is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @KGorman_Trib.

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