Pitt's Talib Zanna dunks against Georgetown in the first half Saturday.
Matt Freed /Post-Gazette
Dante Taylor celebrates near the end of Pitt's upset of No. 9 Georgetown Saturday at Petersen Events Center - the Panthers' second win in a row.
By Ray Fittipaldo Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Georgetown entered its game Saturday against Pitt with some of the best defensive statistics in the nation. Pitt, on the other hand, ranked among the nation's most offensively challenged teams.
So go figure how the Panthers ripped the No. 9 Hoyas with an impressive wire-to-wire victory at the Petersen Events Center.
The Panthers won, 72-60, and made it look easy. They shot 52 percent from the field, the highest shooting percentage for a Georgetown opponent this season, and received standout performances from Lamar Patterson and Nasir Robinson to win their second consecutive game.
Robinson led the Panthers (13-9, 2-7) with 23 points. He was 9 for 9 from the field and 5 for 6 from the foul line.
Patterson added 18, 7 assists and 4 rebounds and made several clutch plays in the latter stages of second half when the Hoyas threatened to make a comeback.
"I really liked how we played," coach Jamie Dixon said. "I liked how we played offense. Against a very good defensive team, we really were unselfish, moved the ball, trademarks of what we do. I think we're a very good offensive team when we have everyone out there."
Pitt, of course, compiled its disappointing offensive statistics when point guard Tray Woodall was out of the lineup for most of eight weeks with an abdominal injury. Georgetown became the latest team to find out the Panthers are a completely different team with Woodall on the floor.
Woodall did not shoot well, but he handed out 10 assists and had the offense clicking on all cylinders again. The Panthers have shot 46 percent or better in three games since Woodall's return. They did not shooter better than 44 percent in any of their first six Big East games.
The Panthers attacked Georgetown inside, outscoring the Hoyas, 36-22, in the paint and out-rebounding them, 35-23.
"Everything that shouldn't have happened defensively happened," Georgetown coach John Thompson III said. "There was a lack of communication, breakdowns. They got what we knew they would be looking for."
Robinson did not do anything spectacular, but his consistency finishing around the hoop was a huge plus for the Panthers, who have struggled in that regard. He did not miss a shot until he missed a free throw with 1:22 left. He added eight rebounds and two assists.
"He let things come to him," Dixon said. "He has a great knack for being in the right spot. He hurt them in zone and in man. He did a great job from the free-throw line. You can't say enough about the kid. He gets his knee drained once or twice a week, and he's out there battling. He's played through an injury this year. I think everyone knew how tough he was, but this is another indication of that."
While Robinson had high-scoring honors, it was Patterson who made the key plays down the stretch when the Panthers needed them. The Hoyas (16-4, 6-3) cut the lead to six three times in the final 10 minutes, but Patterson kept stemming the tide.
It was 48-42 when Patterson aggressively drove to the basket for a layup. It was 50-44 when he drove the baseline, dunked and converted a 3-point play with 7:21 remaining.
And, after the Hoyas made it 55-49, Patterson drove into the lane and dished a pass to Dante Taylor for a wide-open dunk with 3:57 to play.
"I wanted to be aggressive and attack the rim," Patterson said. "My jump shot wasn't falling, so I just wanted to attack the rim and get layups. I saw my opportunities to go and I was running with them."
Dixon said Patterson is starting to get a grasp of how important he is to the team. Dixon had him on the floor for 35 minutes Saturday, and he played a near flawless game.
"He's played really well lately," Dixon said. We've asked him to do a lot of things. He's kind of fit into that role understanding how valuable he is, how many minutes he has to play, how hard he has to play. He did a lot of things, the passing, rebounding when we needed it, and I think he defended really well. He's better with Travon out there. That's been evident."
In the first half, some impressive defense led to a 33-22 lead. The Hoyas were 9 for 27 from the field and went almost seven minutes without a field goal. Four of those nine field goals came in the final 3:17 of the half after they fell behind by 17.
The Panthers held Jason Clark, Georgetown's leading scorer, to nine points.
"We were aggressive," Patterson said. "We weren't letting them push us around. We held our ground. We wanted to focus in on defense. We haven't been good all year, basically, on defense. We wanted to show people we can play defense."
The performance before a sellout crowd also kept an impressive streak alive for the Panthers. They improved to 12-0 against teams ranked in the Associated Press' Top 10 since the Petersen Events Center opened in 2002.
"We just try to get up to play those games," Woodall said. "We look at the rankings, also. We try to go after them just like they go after us. We go out and play as hard as we can, give it all we got and keep fighting."