Jan. 3, 2009
WASHINGTON, D.C. (AP) - Fourteen games into the season, No. 3 Pittsburgh took its first major test and passed it with plenty to spare - thanks to the inside muscle of DeJuan Blair.
Blair had 20 points and 17 rebounds to win his duel with Georgetown standout freshman Greg Monroe, and the No. 3 Panthers never trailed in Saturday's 70-54 win over the No. 11 Hoyas.
In a rematch of the last two Big East tournament championship games, Pittsburgh (14-0, 2-0 Big East) broke open a close contest with a 17-4 run midway through the second half. They dominated the Hoyas on the boards (46-21), in the paint (48-22) and with their depth (14-2 bench scoring).
DaJuan Summers scored 22 points to lead Georgetown, single-handedly keeping his team in the game in the first half. Monroe added 15 points for the Hoyas (10-2, 1-1), who were dealt a sobering reality check five days after their road upset of No. 2 Connecticut.
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 on Wednesday, but any doubts over a soft schedule were put to rest well before Blair began thumping his chest to the thousands of fans chanting "Lets go, Pitt!" in the upper bowl of the Verizon Center late in the second half.
Monroe 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 layup. In the second half, he scored Pittsburgh'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.
But every time Blair seemed ready to give 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 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.
Rebounding has been an ongoing concern during coach John Thompson III's tenure at Georgetown, and the problem almost doomed his team from the start in Saturday's game. The Panthers converted second-chance opportunities with ease, whether it was Blair or Biggs or Brown, and had a 10-4 advantage in offensive boards at halftime and 20-7 for the game.
It would have been a runaway it 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 of them after Pittsburgh had opened a comfortable lead.
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