Pitt Has Quick Turnaround

When the Pitt and Georgetown men's basketball teams play Big East supremacy and national rankings always appear to be at stake, and that's the case once again when the 20th-ranked Panthers (14-2, 2-1) and No. 7 Hoyas (13-1, 3-0) meet Monday night at 7 at the Petersen Events Center.

The two teams played three times last season, including in the championship game of the Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden in New York City, and Georgetown won twice. Pittsburgh had a chance to clinch the Conference regular-season title in the game in Washington, D.C. and lost 61-53. And in the Big East title game, the Hoyas won 65-42 to earn the tourney crown as well.

"We think about it all the time,'' Pitt senior point guard Ronald Ramon said. "That was a (championship) ring that was taken away from us, but it's behind us now. And it's definitely a big challenge, but they're coming to our house.

"And we've got to protect our house, so we have to go out there and play the best that we can and try to be ready for them (tonight).''

Pitt junior forward Sam Young grew up in Clinton, Md., a Washington suburb, so the losses to Georgetown have been particularly painful for him.

"I know some of the guys that are on the team, like DeJuan Summers, we played on the same AAU team,'' Young said. "I always get asked about them like I should be worried about them and I know they're a (higher-rated) team, but I think we're the better team until they prove otherwise. But it's definitely going to be a big challenge.

"They definitely were my home team growing up, but right now I've got to root against them. And I have to go out there and play as hard as I can to beat them. Ever since I've been here, I go home back to D.C. to get a win, but we come up short. Now, they're coming here, and ... I expect us to go out there and get revenge for those games last year.''

Georgetown again is led by 7-foot-2 center Roy Hibbert, who averages 12.6 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. He has 28 blocked shots and 26 assists. An all-around player, Hibbert is a force in the middle and will be a difficult test for Pitt freshman center DeJuan Blair. But that didn't appear to faze him.

"They're all good players, so there's not much more you can say about that,'' Blair said. "But like every other big game, we'll show up. We'll be there. And they've got to worry about me. You don't have to worry about DeJuan Blair showing up, because I'll be there for Georgetown.

"(And) getting into foul trouble really doesn't even enter into my mind. If it happens, then it happens, but if it doesn't then it doesn't. I'm just going to try my best not to reach in and not let the other guys get into the paint. We have to try to keep them outside.''

When the Hoyas step outside, they can be dangerous as well. Summers (11.8), Austin Freeman (10.1) and Jonathan Wallace (10.1) all average in double figures, and Jessie Sapp is at 9.1 points per game. Summers also has 5.6 rebounds per game, and all four players have made 19 or more 3-pointers.

"Every time we've played them ever since I've been here, it's been very heated,'' Pitt senior guard Keith Benjamin said. "And it keeps going back and forth. They protect their place, and we've protected ours. And they got us real good at the Garden, but it's a new year.

"So, we just want to go out there and get after them. We feel very confident in this team and the guys that we've got right now even though they have a lot of height on us. But we like our team, and ... they've got to come to the Pete to face a tough crowd and a tough team in us.''

In the past four games, since Pitt's lineup changes, the Panthers have faced heavy pressure from the opposition and have handled it fairly well, so Benjamin isn't concerned about Georgetown turning up the heat.

"We've seen a press every game, and we have two different press breaks that seem to work,'' Benjamin said. "So, whichever one we go with we know it real well, because we go over it in practice every day, and we feel comfortable with it. I guess teams will still keep coming after us, but as long as we keep handling it the way that we've done it's not going to affect us at all.''

Pitt goes on the road after this with Cincinnati Saturday and St. John's Jan. 23.

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