PITT THUMPS REELING GEORGETOWN ON THE ROAD
Pittsburgh issued a statement to the country and remained undefeated in BIG EAST Play by going to Georgetown and defeating the reeling Hoyas 72-57 on their home floor.
Pitt came out of the gates hot and an early 17-2 run put the Panthers up 24-9 with 8:44 left. Jamie Dixon's club shot 58% in the first half and were led by Ashton Gibb's 16 points in the game's first 20 minutes to take a 41-24 lead at the half.
"They are a very good defensive team, there's no secret about that," Hoya head coach John Thompson III said. "I think they played very well on both ends of the floor. We dug a hole for ourselves in the first half and we missed ten free throws. If you make those it's a whole different ballgame. They're too good of a team to make that kind of mistake."
Georgetown shot 39% in the opening half, but their miserable 4-14 performance from the foul line only deepened their problems.
"I think we got them on a night where they didn't make some shots early, especially some free throw so we were fortunate in the regard," said Jamie Dixon. "I was really happy with how we played, how we stayed with our stuff, how we ran our sets really well especially in the first half and even in the second half."
Things did not get better early in the second as the Pitt lead ballooned to as many as 22 points, 55-33, at the 14:03 mark when Nasir Robinson scored on a transition lay-up from Brad Wanamaker, capping an 8-0 and forcing JTIII to call a timeout.
The Panthers did go more than 7 minutes without a field goal and the Hoyas took advantage to get within 11, 60-49 at the 5:22 mark, but Gibbs hit the dagger three-pointer on the next possession to re-establish control for Pitt and push the lead back to 14.
"It was a big shot," Hoya point guard Chris Wright said. "We stressed that we wanted to keep a high hand in his face and force him to drive him to the basket, but we didn't do that. He can shoot and if you leave him open he's going to knock down his shots."
Gibbs finished with a game-high 22 points, knocking down five of 10 from three-point range. Brad Wanamaker added 14 and Gilbert Brown 12 in the win. Again, Pitt was able to win the battle of the baords and had 15 team assists against just five turnovers. Travon Woodall came off the bench to add 5 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists against no turnovers in his 20 minutes of playing time.
"I am really happy with how unselfish we really played," said Dixon. "Once again our assist to turnover 15 to five [is key to performance]."
Pittsburgh will not return home to face Seton Hall on Saturday evening for a 7 PM tip-off. There will be a big football game being played at roughly the same time (Steelers/Ravens at 4:30 at Heinz Field) which could lessen the crowd for the game. With their BIG MONDAY match-up with Syracuse right around the corner, the Panthers can not afford to look too far ahead. The game will be a homecoming for Herb Pope and the Pirates got a lift on Wednesday as well with the return of Jeremy Hazell to the line-up. Hazell came off the bench to score a game-high 23 points in SHU's 78-67 win at DePaul. Kevin Willard, who played at Pitt under his father Ralph Willard, will bring a much more confidant Pirate team into the Peterson Events Center on Saturday night.
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