A pair of defensive-minded squads that are hungry for their first Big East win will collide when the Pittsburgh Panthers visit the Verizon Center to face the No. 19 Georgetown Hoyas.
Jamie Dixon's Panthers came into league play on an eight-game winning streak, but they are now on a two-game losing slide after falling to Cincinnati (70-61) and at Rutgers (67-62). The loss to the Scarlet Knights was the first true road test of the season for Pitt, which was successful during its non- conference slate due to its stifling defense. The Panthers have the lowest scoring defense in the conference at 53.5 points allowed per contest, and they are sixth on the offensive end of the floor with 73.6 ppg.
Georgetown also performed well before entering Big East play as it went 11-1 with the lone setback coming in overtime to the elite Indiana Hoosiers. John Thompson III's squad had a seven-game winning streak before it dropped a 49-48 decision at Marquette in its league opener. The Hoyas are right behind the visitors in scoring defense in the conference, allowing 54.1 ppg, but they are second to last in the league in scoring at a meager 65.1 ppg.
The game marks the final Big East regular season meeting between the two schools as Pitt joins the Atlantic Coast Conference next year. The Hoyas hold a 41-35 edge in the all-time series, but the Panthers have won five of the last seven meeting between the schools.
Pittsburgh trailed Rutgers by as many as 16 points late in the first half and whittled the deficit to 55-53 with under 4 minutes to play, but the Scarlet Knights answered with a short jumper and the Panthers could not get any closer. The Scarlet Knights shot 51.2 percent from the field, but the Panthers stayed in the game by converting 17 Rutgers' turnovers into 22 points. Pitt was led by J.J. Moore's 14 points and Tray Woodall's 11 points and eight assists. Junior forward Talib Zanna paces the team in the scoring column (13.1 ppg) and ranks second in rebounds (5.9) behind freshman seven-footer Steven Adams (6.9 ppg, 6.3 rpg), who has started all 15 games. Woodall, a transfer from CMU, is heating up and now pours in 11.5 ppg.
The Hoyas had a strong defensive showing in Milwaukee as they held the Golden Eagles to 36.4 percent shooting from the floor including a 4-of-17 mark from 3- point range. Georgetown was outrebounded by nine boards though and missed five free throws in the one-point loss. Markel Starks ended with 18 points and seven assists, while Otto Porter and Greg Whittington each donated 13 points. Porter is the go-to-guy for Georgetown with team-best averages of 13.2 points and 7.5 rebounds per tilt. Whittington (12.6 ppg, 7.4 rpg) and Starks are both scoring in double figures as well.