NCAA BK

Pittsburgh-Georgetown Preview

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Georgetown coach John Thompson III was understandably upset after his team failed to secure a double-bye in the Big East tournament by losing its regular-season finale.

He's surely none too pleased with the team the No. 13 Hoyas have to face as a result.

Hoping to avenge one of its more disappointing defeats, fifth-seeded Georgetown squares off against 13th-seeded Pittsburgh in Wednesday's second-round matchup at Madison Square Garden.

Coming off an impressive 59-41 win over then-No. 20 Notre Dame, the Hoyas (22-7) failed to sustain any momentum with Saturday's 83-69 loss at then-No. 8 Marquette. Georgetown made just 14 of 25 (56.0 percent) free throws, finishing 12-6 in conference play and in a three-way deadlock for fourth place.

Cincinnati, however, earned the double-bye due to a tiebreaker.

"We came in here with the opportunity to control where we finished," Thompson said. "We didn't do what we were supposed to do, so you end up playing on Wednesday instead of Thursday. That's a lesson that's got to be learned.

"Playoffs started (Saturday), and fortunately, unlike the NCAA tournament, it doesn't mean the season's over. But we have to a lot of things differently, unlike (Saturday), as we go forward."

The Hoyas also struggled from the foul line during a 72-60 loss at Pittsburgh (17-15) on Jan. 28, making 7 of 12. Leading scorers Jason Clark and Hollis Thompson, averaging a combined 27.3 points, were limited to 20 on 8 of 21 shooting for Georgetown, which was outrebounded 35-23 while dropping to 1-5 in the series since 2007-08.

"We were aggressive," Panthers forward Lamar Patterson, who scored a career-high 18 points, said after that win. "We weren't letting them push us around. We just held our ground and really wanted to focus in on defense. We haven't been good on defense all year, basically, so we wanted to show everyone we could play defense."

While Pittsburgh allowed opponents to shoot 48.0 percent from the field in losing six of seven to conclude its schedule, the Panthers came out with a stifling defensive display in Tuesday's 73-59 opening-round win over St. John's.

Pittsburgh took a five-point lead into the break and never looked back, holding the Red Storm to 33.3 percent shooting - its best defensive mark this season.

"I think we've gotten better the last couple of weeks and it's a good sign as we go forward here," coach Jamie Dixon said. "We've got to defend and I think we did that (Tuesday) and we'll continue to do that as we go forward (Wednesday)."

Big East preseason player of the year Ashton Gibbs made 4 of 9 from 3-point range in scoring a team-high 20 points while fellow senior Nasir Robinson added 15. Robinson recorded a season-high 23 points - making all nine field-goal attempts - versus the Hoyas in the Jan. 28 win.

While the Panthers, who opened 11-1 before crumbling, haven't proven nearly as formidable as in recent years, Gibbs is hoping Tuesday's win becomes the start of something special.

"The past three years we had a lot more success during the regular season," he said. "But it was a good win for us (Tuesday). It started on the defensive end and we let it carry to the offense. We did a good job of moving the ball and it's something we've just got to continue to do throughout the tournament."

Pittsburgh had been the No. 1 or No. 2 seed in the previous three Big East tournaments, but was eliminated in its first game each time.

Tagged: Pittsburgh, Georgetown, Hollis Thompson

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