Parity: 1. the state or condition of being the same in power, value, rank, etc.; equality. 2. resemblance, similarity.

So, what's wrong with Georgetown?

The question is a cliche, but it's clear all is not right with the 15th-ranked Hoyas. They have lost three straight Big East games for the first time in two seasons, three games in a row for the first time since the 1981-82 season, and are in last place in the conference.

And Syracuse, at the Carrier Dome, is the next test. The Orangemen are 4-1 in the Big East, and surely recall who it was that beat them three times last season, including by 69-59 in the conference tournament final.

"Our opponent is ourselves right now," Georgetown Coach John Thompson said yesterday. "The most important thing for us to do is get back on track. Anytime you play Syracuse, you can count on a high, pepped-up game. And I'm hoping that can get us back on track. I'm depending on the rivalry."

The other teams have something to do with it, too. The overall balance of the league this year is probably the best it has been. Villanova leads the conference at 5-1. The last-place team -- Georgetown -- beat Pittsburgh, the team favored to win the conference at the start of the season. Throw in Connecticut beating Syracuse in the Carrier Dome, and you have an indication of the league's top-to-bottom parity.

But that doesn't cover the fact that Georgetown has been struggling offensively. Even though the Hoyas are still getting a lot of points off of their defensive pressure and in transition, it hasn't been enough to win. It usually is.

"Anytime you lose," Thompson said, "there are 101 things that you can analyze and find wrong. I think the biggest thing that we have to do is continue to work hard and hope that some breaks fall our way."

The Hoyas have made just 58 percent of their free throws this season, but they have never been a great foul-shooting club. Though they're only 75 for 168 from the floor (44.6 percent) in their last three games, the Hoyas made just 51 percent in their championship season of 1983-84.

"I don't think anything's missing offensively," forward Perry McDonald said. "At the free throw line, we're not keeping our concentration and the ball's not going in the basket. We have to just keep shooting. It ain't no thing."

During the slump, Georgetown's problems have been twofold. First, other than McDonald, no inside player has scored in double figures in more than a month (Anthony Tucker's 15 against Rice Dec. 21). So when Charles Smith or Mark Tillmon are off (and they were a combined 11 of 31 against St. John's Wednesday), the Hoyas' half-court offense has been stagnant.

Second, Georgetown has been hurt badly the last three games by opposing guards. Delray Brooks scored 28 in Providence's win, Dana Barros fired in 30 for Boston College and Michael Porter scored 21 for St. John's. None of the last three teams has wilted under Georgetown's defensive pressure, though the Hoyas have had their spurts.

Wednesday, Georgetown made a 13-0 run midway through the second half to erase a 12-point deficit and take a 50-49 lead. After St. John's called time, the Redmen ran off an 11-2 binge and went up by eight with 2:32 to play.

Tucker, a 6-8 freshman, is the only front-court player averaging more than four points a game, at 7.1. If he develops his offensive skills, he will help, but Thompson has tried to bring him into the offense slowly.

"He's still a freshman," Thompson said recently, "and learning where we want him to be. And he probably feels like the song, 'Everybody's Talking at Me,' because every time he moves, it appears that he's not doing the right thing, because somebody's fussing, go over here, go back. It takes time."

In addition, Thompson has had to juggle his front court because of nagging injuries that have kept forward Ronnie Highsmith and forward/center Anthony Allen out of games in the last week. Their replacements have not given the Hoyas much in the way of scoring or rebounding.

"We're not that strong that everybody doesn't have to be 100 percent," Thompson said yesterday. "It's not the kind of thing that you can't perform, but performing is not the point. We've got to be able to perform at our best so that everything can be effective. Perry is basically our inside game, and he's 6-4. So we've got to have our outside game going."

Meanwhile, down in Chesapeake, Va., 6-10 center Alonzo Mourning averaged 29.7 points, 18.7 rebounds and 13.7 blocked shots in three games last week for undefeated Indian River High School. Mourning, a consensus high school all-America, will play for the Hoyas next season, along with junior college transfer John Turner, formerly of Allegany (Md.) Junior College.

"I don't think it's a lack of effort. I don't think it's a lack of hustle," Thompson said. "I just think we've gotten into a little slump, and we have to do something to get out of it. It would be real nice {to win} at Syracuse."