PITTSBURGH — Since the Petersen Events Center opened in 2002, the Pittsburgh men’s basketball team had never lost a game to an opponent ranked in the Associated Press poll’s top 10.
Nasir Robinson — and No. 9 Georgetown’s poor execution on the boards — made certain the Panthers’ signature streak remained intact Saturday, as the hosts handed the Hoyas a humbling 72-60 defeat before a capacity crowd of 12,508. Pittsburgh has now won 12 straight home games against top 10 foes.
The box score was as lopsided as in any Hoyas defeat this season.
They were outrebounded, 35-23, by a team that had won exactly one of its previous eight Big East games. They surrendered 32 points in the paint, including three uncontested dunks. And worst of all in the eyes of Coach John Thompson III, they permitted the Panthers to connect on 52 percent of their shots, an efficient effort led by Tray Woodall and his 10 assists. Woodall’s assists total and Pittsburgh’s shooting percentage were the highest a Georgetown opponent had reached this season.
Afterward, Thompson was blunt in his assessment.
“In both of those areas we were awful,” Thompson said of the rebounding disparity and sporadic effort at the defensive end. “They got everything that they wanted. And when they didn’t, they got the rebound.”
Although Georgetown (16-4, 6-3) managed to trim its deficit to six points three times in the final 11 minutes, the 17-point lead the Panthers opened in the first half proved to be too much for the Hoyas to overcome.
Fittingly, the hosts took that 29-12 edge on a dunk by Talib Zanna with 4 minutes 2 seconds remaining before halftime. No Hoyas player was within eight feet of Zanna as he flushed the basketball through the rim. Seniors Jason Clark and Henry Sims, meantime, exchanged bewildered glances.
“I don’t remember that play because it happened so many times,” Clark said. “It was probably a miscommunication, or effort on our part. And they got an easy basket.”
The Hoyas’ biggest problem, though, was Robinson, a burly 6-foot-5 senior forward. Robinson made all nine of his attempts from the floor — and none came from outside of the painted area.
Thompson could not pinpoint any one area on defense where things went wrong for the Hoyas. “From lack of communication, to effort, to breakdowns, to whatever you want,” he said.
“We knew what they were looking for,” he added, “and they went out and got it.”
The poor rebounding effort was equally as concerning for Clark, who said the Hoyas worked on corralling missed shots and blocking out all week in practice. Sims, the Hoyas’ tallest player at 6 feet 10, finished with four rebounds one game after grabbing a career-high 10 last Saturday against Rutgers.
“Very disappointed,” Clark said. “We knew coming into this game that they were a very good rebounding team, both offensively and defensively. We worked on it, and it didn’t carry over to the game.”
The Hoyas had their struggles on offense, too.
Clark, the Hoyas’ leading scorer, was held to nine points and missed all five of his three-point attempts. The team’s second option, Hollis Thompson, finished with 11 points, but eight of those came in the final 54 seconds of a game that was already out of reach. A third starter, sophomore, Nate Lubick, did not score and grabbed only two rebounds in 20 minutes.
John Thompson did not address Hollis Thompson’s struggles specifically when asked about the junior swingman. But the coach did say that the sore thigh muscle that caused him to miss two practices this week was not an issue.
“His leg is not still bothering him,” Thompson said.
Despite a mostly wretched performance, the Hoyas still had a chance late to climb back into the game. But both times, Panthers sophomore Lamar Patterson (18 points) squelched any attempt at a rally.
Sims pulled Georgetown to within 48-42 with a pretty reverse layup with 10:45 left. Patterson, however, answered with an easy layup at the other end.
With 7:47 remaining, Otto Porter (team-high 14 points) made a jumper to make it 50-44. Again, Patterson answered. This time, the 6-5 swingman flushed an impressive dunk.
Georgetown never recovered.
Asked what he planned to do about his team’s porous defense, Thompson barely waited for the questioned to be posed.
“We’ll take care of it in practice,” he said tersely.