The Georgetown Hoyas spent late Saturday night -- after their 63-50 loss to Seton Hall -- insisting that they are, as always, playing for March rewards, not February accolades. Despite recent appearances to the contrary, they insisted that all is well and that this recent rut is not an indication of things to come.

"It's not time to panic," Coach John Thompson said, and his players echoed his words.

Yet the words were accompanied -- at least in the case of the Georgetown players -- by a kind of frustration over their fortunes of late. The reasons for their downward turn seem as difficult for them to locate as their outside shooting touch.

"We have the capability to play very well; we just haven't done it for the past couple of games," forward Alonzo Mourning said. "We have some things to work on. . . . We don't have it all together yet, but we will. I think everything's going to be all right for us. We're going to be tough down the stretch."

Problem is, the stretch has arrived, and it will take an abrupt turnaround for Georgetown to play well again. The 18th-ranked Hoyas have totaled only 105 points in dropping their last two games, leaving their record at 15-8, including 7-5 in the Big East Conference, two games behind first-place Syracuse.

Mourning all but disappeared from the offense in the two road defeats, and Georgetown's trio of freshman starters could not take advantage of the attention given the Hoyas' twin towers, Mourning and Dikembe Mutombo. Georgetown shot a season-low 30 percent Monday night at Connecticut, then followed with 37 percent accuracy (plus 23 turnovers) on Saturday.

In the two losses, Mourning had one field goal in nine attempts and 11 points, and Mutombo took just 12 shots. Guard Charles Harrison had 28 points, but shot a combined seven for 26; backcourt mate Joey Brown was four for 18.

Only four regular season games remain, beginning Wednesday night against Pittsburgh at Capital Centre. Connecticut comes to town Saturday. Then the Hoyas, who have lost four of six Big East road games, close at St. John's and Syracuse.

"We've got a lot of things we've got to be able to work out," Thompson said, adding that Mourning's six-week absence with a strained left arch no longer can be used an an excuse.

It has been a season of maddening starts and stops for the Hoyas, who have learned in alternating bursts of brilliance and lethargy that they likely can beat or be beaten by nearly any team in the country. That's probably to be expected from such a young team, but more is demanded when the likes of Mourning and Mutombo are around.

"Because they have 'Georgetown' across their uniforms, everyone thinks they're automatically going to go out and win 25 games," Seton Hall Coach P.J. Carlesimo said. "But when you start three freshmen -- and I don't care who you have with them -- you're going to have your ups and downs."

The almost flawless indicator of ultimate postseason success for Georgetown has been the Big East tournament. Since 1980, the Hoyas have won it six times -- and on each occasion they advanced at least to the final eight of the NCAA tournament. The five years they lost in the Big East tournament, they were eliminated from the NCAA tournament in the first or second round.

Now is when the Hoyas' fine-tuning run into the Big East tournament ideally should begin. But the Hoyas have lost three of their last five and six of their past 12 games.

"We haven't dominated the regular season since we've been in {the Big East}," Thompson said. "We've pretty much dominated the tournament, though. . . . I think we'll show up when the tournament comes."

Said Mutombo: "I know it's late in the season, but now is not the time to worry."