Georgetown had its worst loss of the JTIII era Tuesday night, losing by 28 to Pittsburgh in a game in which nothing went right. Shots didn't fall, defensive assignments were missed, and, well you name it, it happened.
The first half featured two travesties, one on each side of the ball. First came the familiar offensive ineptitude. Much like in the Marquette game, Georgetown came out of the gate ice-cold, managing just a pair of baskets in the first eight minutes. While Nate Lubick converted two opportunities near the basket, including a nifty left hook, nearly every other Hoya contributed to the malaise, whether by missing a makeable shot or by committing a careless turnover. While there was no single cause of the offensive struggles, a noticeable problem was Georgetown's inability to convert opportunities in the lane, particularly because of Pitt's large front line.
During that time, the Hoyas played decent defense, using their full-court press to force several turnovers. But Pitt soon shook off a few opening misses, scoring on seven straight possessions in which the Panthers got a shot off. Some baskets were textbook Pitt, with passes ahead by Tray Woodall and James Robinson finding cutting teammates. Others were less expected, as a Panther squad that had struggled from long range made its first three triples.
By the time Georgetown found its legs offensively, the Hoyas trailed 17-6 with nearly ten minutes elapsed. Soon, they accomplished from the line what they couldn't from the field, earning 12 first-half free throws (as many as the Hoyas shot in the entire Marquette game) and converting nine. Even that pleasant surprise failed to make up for Hoyas' terrible field goal shooting, which somehow did not result in a single offensive rebound.
Just as the offense started to come around, Georgetown's defense fell apart. A normally sloth-like Pitt attack found opportunities in transition, while ball reversals, slow switches, and over-rotations killed Georgetown in the half court. Pitt's exemplary passing resulted in 11 assists on 15 made first-half baskets, with Woodall's five helpers leading the way. By the time the half mercifully arrived, the Panthers had built a 15-point lead.
Unfortunately, the half couldn't last forever. Georgetown came out of intermission as cold as it started the game, scoring just two points before the under-four timeout. In truth, just as much blame should be heaped on Georgetown's nonexistent defensive rebounding, which allowed three straight Pitt offensive rebounds before a Woodall lay-in extended the lead to 18. Georgetown's frustration began to show, with hurried shots, dumb fouls, a frustration take-down by Lubick of Pitt big man Steven Adams, and even a rare technical on JTIII.
There was little more to note from there. A brief flurry by Georgetown narrowed the gap to 13, but an 8-0 run by Pitt, fueled by a faster pace and several Panther offensive rebounds, quashed any notion of a comeback. And fortunately, somewhere after the half a timely bout of stomach flu caught up with me, saving me from much of the funereal late-game.
The win was Pittsburgh's sixth in its last eight games against the Hoyas. Georgetown particularly struggles defensively against the Panthers, where Pitt's smart point guard play and slick ball movement outpace the Hoyas' switches. Georgetown's defense, often so stifling to other Big East opponents always is reacting to Pitt's offensive sets rather than limiting them.
This game particularly exposed Georgetown's limitations like none of its predecessors. The lack of post offense, the unavailability and inability to create any easy shots, the inability to generate any second chances on the boards--all were on display in Tuesday's night debacle.
But enough about this terrible game. The Hoyas have a few days off, then what promises to be a challenging trip to St. John's Saturday as Georgetown has its third chance to earn its first Big East win of the season.
Until then, Hoya Saxa.