Pittsburgh's basketball team arrived here before most of the snow did, so the Big East Conference game tonight against Georgetown at MCI Center is on.
"We think we're going to be fine," Georgetown Coach Craig Esherick said, "unless there's more snow than is being predicted."
The No. 7 Panthers were not in an upbeat mood, however, after arriving Saturday night after being upset by Seton Hall, 73-61, and losing their third straight road game. They were sounding a lot like Georgetown had before ending a six-game losing streak with a 12-point victory over Virginia Tech later in the day in Blacksburg.
"We have a lack of focus on the road. . . . I don't think we played with intensity," Panthers guard Julius Page told reporters after the Seton Hall loss.
Georgetown is eager for the rematch with the Panthers (17-4, 7-3), having taken them to the final possession three weeks ago in Pittsburgh before a defensive lapse allowed a long inbounds pass to Page. He was fouled charging toward the basket by point guard Drew Hall and made a free throw with less than a second left for a 65-64 victory.
For the Hoyas (11-10, 3-7), that started the slide that has them tied for last place with Rutgers in the league's West Division. Two of those other losses also were against ranked teams, Notre Dame and Syracuse. Another was the second straight loss this season to a Seton Hall team suddenly gaining lots of respect by climbing to a solid fourth in the division.
In that earlier game in Pittsburgh, the Hoyas battled back from an 11-point deficit with 12 minutes left and took the lead briefly before trailing by four with 22 seconds remaining. Then Hall made two foul shots, and the usually accurate Donatas Zavackas missed two for the Panthers.
Freshman Brandon Bowman made two free throws with 3.5 seconds left to tie the score before the Hoyas allowed that long pass to Page by Jaron Brown.
On Saturday the Hoyas had substantial leads for most of the final 22 minutes against a Virginia Tech team missing its second leading scorer, versatile Carlos Dixon, who had surgery on his left foot earlier in the day. Mostly, that was made possible by Gerald Riley, who hit 6 of 7 three-point shots and whose 31 points bettered his career high by eight.
But another Georgetown swoon seemed possible with just under two minutes left, when a turnover near midcourt by Hall and a reach-in foul by Darrel Owens helped Tech whittle the lead to eight. But Owens then sank two free throws, and Mike Sweetney quickly followed with a block of guard Eric Branham that Owens recovered.
Riley, Bethel and Owens than clinched the victory with foul shots.
"Hopefully, this carries over to the next six games," Hall said, referring to home games against Providence, No. 17 Syracuse and No. 10 Notre Dame in addition to Pittsburgh and road tests against Miami and West Virginia. The Hoyas need to crawl out of last place in the division to qualify for the conference tournament.
For the Panthers, rebounding and shooting were the major problems against Seton Hall. They had been outrebounding opponents by an average of nearly 10 a game. But the Pirates had nine more Saturday. Also, Page missed six of his seven shots and all five three-point attempts.
"Only one shot inside the three-point line [means] we need him to look to go to the basket more," Pittsburgh Coach Ben Howland said after the game. "Get to the [foul] line. He's got to look to be more aggressive."
Point guard Brandin Knight took a hard fall and missed three minutes near the end of the first half, but played the entire second half.
Esherick reminded his players during practice yesterday that the Panthers' style requires patience on both offense and defense. Freshman guard Ashanti Cook practiced more yesterday than usual on an ankle that has limited him to a total of just seven minutes in conference games and Esherick hopes for at least some action from him tonight.
"We played well against them for the most part," Esherick said, "so I hope we do some of the same things."