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Cook leads Pittsburgh past Georgetown

Jan 14, 2007 - 6:17 AM PITTSBURGH (Ticker) -- Pittsburgh didn't let Georgetown build on its recent momentum in their series.

Mike Cook scored 18 points as the seventh-ranked Panthers outlasted the Hoyas for a 69-64 Big East Conference victory.

Pittsburgh (16-2, 4-0 Big East) extended its home winning streak to 11 games and improved to 11-0 this season and 34-3 in its last 37 conference games at Petersen Events Center.

That dominance on their home floor helped the Panthers avert a third straight loss to the Hoyas.

"It's huge," Pitt forward Levon Kendall said. "We were saying even before the game we almost had a 20-point advantage even before the game started the way the crowd was and all the energy coming from everybody. That's what we come to expect from 'The Zoo.'"

It was hardly a typical defensive, grind-it-out battle between two teams who were picked to finish 1-2 in the league's preseason coaches' poll.

Cook finished 7-of-11 from the field as Pitt shot 60 percent (28-of-47); Georgetown was even better at 61 percent (28-of-46).

"It was unbelievable. Who could have predicted that?" Panthers coach Jamie Dixon said. "We're pretty good offensively and they're pretty good too. Everyone talks about our defense and their defense, but we're good offensively as well.

"It was two great teams that played very well, didn't miss many shots and made plays all the way through. I'm very happy we came out with the win." Pittsburgh used a 14-2 run bridging the halves to open a 49-34 lead on a driving layup by Kendall with 17:11 left.

Patrick Ewing Jr. came off the bench to help rally the Hoyas (11-5, 1-2), scoring all 12 of his points in the second half and nailing a 3-pointer to slice the deficit to 65-56 with 5:46 to go.

The Hoyas closed within six on a jumper by Ewing with 3:23 left but could not get any closer until Jessie Sapp's 3-pointer with three seconds to play.

"We fought, we came back and then just had a couple of bad bounces," Georgetown coach John Thompson III said. "But they cause you to have the bad bounces. That's why they are good - they are experienced. It's not just the talent level, all those guys out there have played in a lot of tough situations and they're tough kids."

Antonio Graves and Aaron Gray scored 11 points apiece for the Panthers, who lead the nation in assist-turnover differential and showed why with 22 assists against just seven turnovers.

"We try to play like that all year," Cook said. "We try to share the ball because we've got a talented team and we all trust each other. It's really nothing out of the ordinary. We have an unselfish team. Coach has been preaching that all year since the summer time. We got into a rhythm and after that, it's kind of hard to stop us."

Sapp and Jeff Green led Georgetown with 15 points each. Roy Hibbert was also in double figures with 11 points, but the 7-2 center grabbed just two rebounds, allowing Pitt to hold a 23-18 advantage on the glass.

"They've got good guards who can penetrate and shoot open threes, knock down a lot of shots," Green said. "They got big guys in there like Kendall and Gray who can step out and shoot the jump shot and play hard down low.

"They have a lot of parts to their team which makes them win and that's hard to defend."