CLEVELAND, JAN. 9 -- When their season began, Georgetown knew that in order to do well in the Big East, their guards would have to assume the scoring load. Coach John Thompson talks after each game about his guards taking clutch shots.

But Georgetown's victory over No. 2 Pittsburgh Wednesday gave a proper display of both the Hoyas' strengths and weaknesses. Their frontcourt had a very hard time with Pittsburgh's forward Jerome Lane (weakness), while their backcourt produced turnovers and scored inside the Panthers' zone late in the game (strength).

Today, Georgetown (10-1) won't face anyone quite as talented as Lane. Indeed, their game with De Paul (8-2) at the Horizon in Chicago probably will give them a look at a team a lot like themselves. The Blue Demons are also best when they have the ball in the hands of their guards.

The game will probably be Georgetown's best road test so far this season. In their road games of significance, they've lost to Virginia Tech and had a close scare at Miami last week. The Horizon is one of the loudest arenas in the country.

Thompson was asked whether his club is, like a young fighter, being exposed to different types of teams with its schedule.

"You don't put {a fighter} into world class competition right away," Thompson said, "you gradually work him up. When you do put him up against world class competition, you don't improve your weaknesses, you tend to rely on your strengths. Sometimes, that can hurt you."

In their last three games, Georgetown's leading scorer has come from their guard quintet. Wednesday, junior Charles Smith scored 20 and took over the team lead in scoring at 13 points a game.

Three of Georgetown's top four scorers are guards, and with freshman forward Anthony Tucker still getting his feet under him, Perry McDonald has been the only consistent performer for Georgetown both on the boards and in scoring.

"I know I have to score, and I'm looking forward to it," Smith said. "We just run to the open spot. We hit the open man and make the shots."

"We don't have one player that can't post up," Thompson said. "That's an advantage in our backcourt. . . the best hook shot on the team is possibly by Charles Smith."

Like Georgetown, De Paul has made the transformation from a transition team that loved to go inside to its frontcourt to a transition team that depends on its guards to score. Like Georgetown, De Paul had to replace its leading scorer, when Dallas Comegys took his 17.5 points and 7.5 rebounds to the NBA.

So De Paul has given the ball to its junior guard Rod Strickland. Strickland was reinstated to the club Dec. 8, after resolving academic deficiencies. Without him, the Blue Demons lost their season opener to Pepperdine, 84-76. Since coming back for the fourth game, Strickland has taken over the team scoring lead at 19.9 points a game, shooting 52 percent from the floor. He also gives out seven assists and has 25 steals.

And the Blue Demons have won eight of their last nine games, including victories over Notre Dame and at Washington. Still, De Paul has, like Georgetown, not exactly had a killer schedule, and they lost to Northwestern with Strickland, 74-60, Dec. 21.

"He's basically the key person offensively," Thompson said, "along with {junior forward Terence} Greene. I think their team is very similar to ours, in that they rely on their backcourt."

Senior guard Kevin Edwards teams with Strickland in the backcourt. He's right behind Strickland in scoring (19.8) and goes to the boards (5.6 a game).

"We're not real strong inside," De Paul Coach Joey Meyer said, "but they don't have great scoring inside either."

The Blue Demons aren't quite inept up front. Greene is one of two Blue Demons who have started all 10 games and is third on the team at 14.9 points. Junior forward Stanley Brundy leads the team in rebounding at 7.3 a game and has shot 61.7 percent from the floor. What they are is relatively small. Senior Kevin Golden and freshman Bill Hepner, 6-9 forwards, are their two tallest players that see any real time.

Curtis Jackson, a McDonald's high school all-America last season, is a 6-9 center/forward but he's only played in four games so far for the Blue Demons.

De Paul has taken just 87 three-pointers so far. Andy Laux is their top three-point shooter, hitting on 14 of 29 shots (48 percent). Edwards has hit on 10 of 21 three-pointers (47 percent). But Strickland is the igniter.

"We try to attack the leader," Thompson said, "and feel in most cases if you can put the pressure on them, you can go from there."

The Blue Demons feel the same way. "It's hard to press them because they bring the ball up so fast," Meyer said. "Normally, because of the number of guards, you wouldn't. But we'll give it a shot."