The No. 3 Panthers, led by sophomore DeJuan Blair with 20 points and 17 rebounds, pounded No. 11 Georgetown 70-54 in a nationally-televised Big East Conference game Saturday at the Verizon Center.
"We joked with DeJuan the last couple days that he was going to be well-rested, because he only played eight minutes in the Rutgers game (due to foul trouble),'' Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said. "So he had a lot of legs, and he was ready to go. So, we went inside early. We wanted to get him the ball, and we wanted to get him involved. So, that was a big part of it.''
Pittsburgh (14-0) never trailed in the win, which stopped a 29-game home win streak and by the Hoyas and was their most lopsided loss to the Panthers since an 89-71 win Jan. 25, 1997 and third worst since the series began during the 1911-12 season. Pitt is among just five remaining undefeated teams nationally.
The Panthers don't play again until they face St. John's in another Big East matchup Jan. 11 at noon at the Petersen Events Center. But that won't be nearly as tough as Georgetown (10-2) was supposed to be, as Blair took control inside. He and Pitt dominated the glass with a 48-23 rebounding advantage.
Blair did a good job against the Hoyas' standout freshman, Greg Monroe, who finished with 15 points and eight boards. DaJuan Summers canned 4 of 5 from 3-point range to lead all scorers with 22 points, but he got little help on offense. And Pitt pulled ahead with a 17-4 run midway through the second half.
"I was so impressed with our preparation,'' Dixon said. "We played at Rutgers on Wednesday and we stayed, which we normally wouldn't do. So we stayed in a hotel for three straight days and it was all about getting ready for Georgetown. There weren't any other issues. It wasn't about seeing family. It was all about business and coming down here Saturday.''
Georgetown is a young team, certainly compared to Pitt with three seniors starters, but the Hoyas dumped No. 2 Connecticut in their most recent game at Hartford. So, the Panthers likely will move up to the No. 2 spot in the new poll.
Tyrell Biggs and Sam Young added 14 points apiece for the Panthers, who shot 53 percent in the second half. But it was Blair who made the difference.
"(Blair) is really strong,'' Monroe said. "He used his strength to his advantage, and that's basically his game. He's a very good player and knows how to use his strength, and that's his whole game plan, using his strength and wide body under the basket to get points. ... Today, we just got outworked, and they were the better team.''
The Panthers didn't face a ranked team while winning their first 13 games and had to overcome a seven-point second-half deficit to beat Rutgers in their Big East opener Wednesday, but any doubt was quickly erased against Georgetown. And the Pitt fans in attendance, who cheered from start to finish, let the Hoyas know who was in charge.
Blair set the tone early in both halves. He won the opening tip, scored the game's first points with a half-hook, then picked off a pass and made the score 4-0 with a lay-up. In the second half, he scored Pitt's first seven points, including a hook shot against a triple team after losing the ball and recovering it in the paint. Immediately after that play, he blocked Monroe's shot at the other end. It might be his best game yet with the Panthers.
But every time Blair gave Pitt some breathing space, Summers and Georgetown had an answer -- until midway through the second half. Summers' 3-pointer tied the score at 40 with 14 minutes to play, but Young responded with a pair of inside baskets to start the decisive run.
Blair dunked home a feed from Levance Fields with 7:47 remaining to make the score 55-44 -- the first double-digit lead of the game -- and Gilbert Brown followed with a fast-break dunk to push the lead to 13. Brown tallied nine points and six rebounds off the bench.
"What it got down to was our offense was very good,'' Dixon said. "We got good shots. We didn't shoot it well, which the numbers indicate. We were 3-of-19 from three, but they were all good shots. And the main part of our offense is taking good shots, which leads to better offensive rebounding opportunities.
"And I thought this was a classic example of that. I thought we executed all the way through and we made good decisions. Most of all, I thought we played smart, and that was the biggest thing we talked about. We talked about getting smarter every day, and I think we did.
"Our offense wasn't as good as it could have been (at Rutgers),'' Dixon added. "We needed to execute better, and (Georgetown) is one of the best offensive teams in the country. So, let's start with that. We took good shots. We didn't turn the ball over, and our three seniors provided great leadership.''
It would have been a runaway earlier if not for Summers, who scored 16 of Georgetown's 30 first-half points. He scored every Hoyas field goal except one over a 13 1/2-minute span and made all three of his 3-point attempts in the half. Monroe scored 11 of his 15 points in the second half, many after Pitt had opened a comfortable lead. In other words, he was not a factor.
Here is the box score:
29 And Done
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