Georgetown vs. Pittsburgh: Have Big East defenses figured out the Hoyas?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011; 11:58 PM

Even before the smattering of boos at halftime, John Thompson III had a major quandary on his hands at Georgetown.

How does a veteran team that started 8-0 against the toughest nonconference schedule in the country, a team that vaulted to No. 9 in the national rankings, freefall this quickly?

Really, how did the Hoyas morph from a potential No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament a mere two weeks ago into . . . this - the out-of-sync eyesore nearly blown off its home floor Wednesday night by No. 5 Pittsburgh?

"Yes, it's a concern," Thompson III said after falling to 1-4 in the Big East. "Make a few shots it solves everything. Get a few rebounds, get a few stops; it's a simple game - make shots and guard your guy."

It is a simple game. But this Hoyas confidence drain is a puzzling mystery on the Hilltop.

Georgetown didn't lose Greg Monroe to the NBA yesterday.

This isn't Austin Freeman, Chris Wright and Julian Vaughn's first Big East rodeo.

Eight of the 10 players who got off the bench for J.T. III, in fact, were also on the team last season, when the Hoyas drummed the two teams in last April's championship game, Duke and Butler. Heck, many of those same eight players got minutes in a pulsating comeback victory at Missouri last month.

Freeman said it best: "Well, I feel this team, when we're clicking, we can be one of the best teams in the country."

And when they're not, you get these Hoyas, who fell apart against the Panthers. You get a team perfectly happy to travel to Rutgers and Seton Hall because Georgetown is in no frame of mind to beat Connecticut, Syracuse or a mentally tough Pitt team that repelled a mini-rally in the second half to win going away.

A team that averaged 80-plus points before Big East play started has been held to fewer than 60 points in four of the last five games. With Monroe gone, there is no one to fill his shoes at Big Man U.

These Hoyas go as their guards go.

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