The Georgetown players know very well that winning, by itself, doesn't always make Coach John Thompson happy. That was never more in evidence than last night as the second-ranked Hoyas, led by Patrick Ewing's 16 points and nine blocked shots, had little difficulty beating Pittsburgh, 70-46, before 9,034 at Capital Centre.
Thompson's postgame remarks to his team were loud, strong and serious in tone. As senior Billy Martin said in the locker room after the smoke cleared, "Whew, that was vintage John Thompson. He was at his best."
Thompson wasn't as concerned with the score as he was with what he felt were mental errors and inconsistent execution by his team.
"You're looking for a level of perfection now because it's getting near tournament time," Thompson said. "I don't think it's a question of playing poorly; we just cannot afford mental lapses now, whether we're identifying what defense an opponent is in or whether it's identifying that we don't have the fast break.
"Right now you're striving for that perfection," he continued. "This is late February. Pretty soon, you lose one game, you'll have the rest of the year off. That's what I told them: 'You can't afford to make mistakes now.' I know it may appear to them that I'm picking on them. But we're getting to the stage where those folks who make mistakes go home. We have to get tournament ready now. Those people who can play, play now."
Even so, Georgetown (24-2, 11-2 in the Big East) made 53 percent of its shots from the field, while holding Pitt (15-9, 6-7) to a measly 29 percent. The Hoyas jumped to a 13-0 lead and later led by as many as 29 points en route to their sixth straight victory.
Reminded of the way his team began the game, Pitt Coach Roy Chipman said, "It's a matter of pride; whether we lost it in the locker room because we believed we couldn't win -- I don't know. I can guarantee you this: you won't see the same five starting Saturday night against Boston College that you saw tonight.
"We were totally outplayed out there, no doubt about it. I thought it would be a lot better ball game."
Pitt came into the game trailing Boston College and Villanova by a half-game for fourth place. And the Panthers, even with a young team, are certainly campaigning for an at-large spot in the NCAA tournament.
But a 21-point loss to St. John's apparently had a lasting effect on the Panthers. Junie Lewis, a reserve guard who came on to lead his team with 12 points, on six-of-10 shooting, said, "We lost to St. John's by 20, and everybody came in here really down."
Georgetown put its lead at 17-3 on a fabulous dunk by Ewing, who went over the 2,000-point mark in career scoring with two minutes left in the first half. Ironically, it might have been that play -- a soaring jam off a Michael Jackson lob -- that made the Hoyas a bit lethargic.
"We did some sensational things in getting ahead," Thompson said. "That was a fantastic dunk Patrick made; maybe we got caught up in the music, too. I'd rather do fundamental things if the fantastic things are going to cause us to relax as a team."
Ewing, to whom scoring is of minimal concern, became the second Georgetown player to pass 2,000 points, following Eric Floyd, and the second Big East player, with Chris Mullin. Ewing has 2,007.
It's hard to think of how lopsided the score might have been if the Hoyas had played with the intensity Thompson wanted. A jumper by Horace Broadnax put Georgetown ahead, 30-13. And the Hoyas led, 36-18, at halftime on a pair of free throws by Martin.
Asked what he told his team at halftime, Chipman said, "I save all my good stuff when we've got a chance to win."
Chipman was a little disgusted with some of his players, who he felt didn't give all they had. That did not include freshman forward Charles Smith -- Pitt's leading scorer -- although he made only two of 14 shots and needed seven free throws to finish with 11 points.
Demetreus Gore, another freshman, made one of seven from the field. Darrly Shepherd chipped in with zero for five. A lot of that could be attributed to Ewing, whose nine blocked shots were one under his career high.
"He forced us to double-clutch on a lot of our shots," Smith said, after wishing his team had not tried to run against Georgetown.
For Georgetown, Reggie Williams scored 12 points. Jackson hit four of six shots and made four assists while committing no turnovers. And Ralph Dalton came off the bench to make all three of his shots and clear three rebounds in eight minutes' relief of Ewing.
Chipman obviously wasn't aware of Thompson's remarks when he said, "It's going to take a great team to beat them. They seem to be peaking at just the right time."
Georgetown's peak in this game came when Williams hit a jumper to make the score 49-22. Smith, who averages 15 points per game and is one of the best freshmen in the country, then scored his first basket with only 12 minutes to play.
"We should be playing much better (than Pitt) right now," Thompson said. "Roy's got a good foundation and his program is really developing well. But it takes time."