for this game

Green, Georgetown edge Pitt in Big East battle

Feb 24, 2007 - 11:53 PM WASHINGTON (Ticker) -- Jeff Green and Georgetown picked the right time to turn up the intensity against Pittsburgh. They also appear to be peaking at the right time this season.

Jonathan Wallace scored 17 points and Green scored 11 of his 14 points in the second half to lead the 12th-ranked Hoyas to a 61-53 triumph over No. 8 Pittsburgh in a Big East Conference showdown.

It was the 11th straight victory for Georgetown (22-5, 12-2 Big East), which climbed one game ahead of Pittsburgh (24-5, 11-3) for first place in the conference. Each school has two games left on their respective regular-season schedules.

"This was a big win," Green said. "We want to be No. 1 in the Big East."

"Jeff Green is a basketball player," Georgetown coach John Thompson III added. "Some people consider him a big guy, some a small guy. He does both. I can put him anywhere on the floor."

The last time the Hoyas won 11 consecutive games was in the 1984-85 season, when they lost to Villanova in the national championship game.

Thompson admitted his team will need to avoid early-game slumps similar to Saturday's if they want to capture the school's first regular-season conference title since 1997, when the Big East was split in two divisions.

"We were extremely nervous at the start of the game, and it showed," Thompson said. "We were very anxious. I talked to them at halftime and told them to settle down. We showed a lot more control in the second half."

After falling behind by seven points early in the second half, the Panthers built a 44-36 lead thanks to an 18-3 run capped by Ronald Ramon's 3-pointer with 11:56 left.

But Green scored eight points over the next 10 minutes as Georgetown closed out the contest with a 25-9 run.

"We held on against a very good team," Thompson said. "They got on a nice run in the second half that gave them the lead but we methodically stayed with it and came back."

"We had a lot of nervous energy at the start," Green added. "As the game went on, we converted that nervous energy into energy on the defensive end."

Green knocked down a turnaround jumper with 5:26 left to forge a 49-49 tie. The Hoyas took the lead for good two minutes later when Jessie Sapp converted a layup off a backdoor pass from Green to make it 51-49.

"That's a play we work on a lot," Green said. "We know each other and our team chemistry is so strong that a play like that works. I knew Jessie would be there and he knew the ball would be there."

Wallace pushed the lead to 53-49 on the following possession when he stole the ball near half-court and finished off a breakaway layup.

"We brought a lot of defensive intensity," Wallace said. "We were able to force turnovers and bad shots, which got us into a transition game."

Pittsburgh's Aaron Gray made a layup with 2:30 left to cut the deficit to 53-51, but Green converted a pair of free throws on the ensuing possession and Sapp finished another fast break with a layup to make it 57-51 with two minutes remaining.

"We were either going to drive the lane or look for the open perimeter shot," Wallace said. "They left openings a couple of times, so I went to the basket."

Roy Hibbert scored 12 points for Georgetown, which has won three of its last four meetings with Pittsburgh. The Hoyas shot 47 percent (18-of-38) from the floor and 76 percent (22-of-29) from the line.

"First place feels great," said Hibbert, who was plagued by foul trouble throughout the contest. "Today felt like a tournament win. We'd love to win the regular-season title. We have two league games left and we are focused on them."

Ramon and Sam Young each scored 11 points to pace the Panthers, who held a 37-31 edge on the glass but shot just 33 percent (19-of-58).

"I was proud of the way we battled and stepped up," Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon said. "It is unusual to lose a game when you take 20 more shots than the other team and 14 more offensive rebounds. They got to the free-throw line a lot, and it cost us."

Pittsburgh's leading scorer and rebounder, Gray has been nursing a sprained left ankle and was not expected to appear in the contest. But the 7-footer played through the pain, scoring 10 points and grabbing six boards in 21 minutes.

"I didn't practice all week but I got up this morning and I felt good," he said. "I didn't feel any pain in warm-ups and told (Dixon) I could go.

"I feel fine, but it was a tough loss. It's important for me to be healthy for the tournament."