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No. 9 Georgetown’s defense watches Pittsburgh roll to an easy upset

- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 28, 2012

PITTSBURGH — A shroud of disgust covered John Thompson III.

Georgetown's coach didn't raise his voice or smack the long interview table in front of him. Instead, Thompson's head slowly pivoted back and forth as if he couldn't believe the 40 minutes of basketball he witnessed Saturday afternoon at Petersen Events Center.

The grinding, aggressive defense that fueled No. 9 Georgetown's unexpected surge this season fell apart in a 72-60 loss to Pittsburgh. Difficulties in the transition defense and guarding the post beset Georgetown, leaving Pittsburgh looking as if it was running layup drills at times.

"I have to ..." Thompson said, then stopped. "They played well. I don't want to take anything away from them."

A look crossed Thompson's face like he just drank spoiled milk.

"In both of those areas we were awful today," he said. "They got everything that they wanted, and when they didn't, they got a rebound."

That will be addressed in practice, Thompson promised. But Georgetown (16-4 overall, 6-3 Big East) played Saturday's game after a week-long break in its schedule.

Still, Georgetown never led. Not for a minute.

Instead, Pittsburgh (13-9, 2-7) looked little like the team that struggled unexpectedly to start the season and surged to a 17-point advantage in the first half.

Wide-open shots were as easy to find as scraps of newspapers the student section held up during Georgetown's introductions. There was sharp-shooting Ashton Gibbs, getting Jason Clark to leap past on a ball-fake, then sinking an easy 3-pointer. Or Lamar Patterson going to the basket for a layup with no defenders in front of him. The waist-high boy on the baseline who mopped the floor after each possession was closer than any Georgetown defender.

Those moments weren't exceptions.

So, Thompson glowered during 5 minutes and 56 seconds of questions.

"Everything that shouldn't have happened on the defensive end happened," Thompson said.

On Thompson's left, big man Henry Sims stared at the table. His voice was barely audible.

"It wasn't good," Sims said. "There was a lot of things we could've done better."

Then his words trailed off.

Sure, Georgetown cut Pittsburgh's lead to five points in the second half and got within six points twice. But the communication problems and defensive breakdowns didn't relent. Neither did Pittsburgh's stream of uncontested baskets.

"It happened plenty of times, more times than it should," Clark said.

Stout forward Nasir Robinson, who scored a game-high 23 points and hit all nine of his field goals, was alone under the hoop for a layup. No defender was around to stop Dante Taylor's dunk. Patterson sliced to the basket along the baseline, like the defense wasn't there.

Thirty-two of Pittsburgh's points came in the paint.

"The other team's big man is going to be smarter than me," Robinson said. "So, I just used my quickness and finished plays."

Freshman Otto Porter came off the bench to lead Georgetown with 14 points. Hollis Thompson added 11, but eight of those came in the final 53.4 seconds when the game was long-since decided.

Pittsburgh has never lost to a top-10 team at Petersen Events Center since it opened in 2002, going 12-0. Georgetown joined the list of victims, hurt by the deceptively simple problem.

"They were able," Thompson said, "to get baskets too easily."

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