Georgetown trying to avoid 0-2 Big East start

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Sports,College,Craig Stouffer,Georgetown University

Thompson is stressing Hoyas need to see every game as important as the next

John Thompson III's approach to Georgetown's Big East schedule is shaped by his experience as a player and coach in the Ivy League, which decides its champion based on the regular season. Each individual result contributes equally to determine the final outcome, not a reseeded postseason tournament.

That's the message Thompson hopes to impart on the 23rd-ranked Hoyas (10-2, 0-1 Big East), who will try to avoid losing their first two games in conference play for the first time during his nine-year tenure when they host Pittsburgh (12-3, 0-2) on Tuesday.

"You quickly get that the first game of the year is as important as the season finale against Penn," Thompson said. "... Our guys gotta get that mindset, that understanding. ... Every game, you've got to win. This one isn't less important than the one two weeks from now."

Up next
Pittsburgh at No. 23 Georgetown
When » Tuesday, 9 p.m.
Where » Verizon Center
TV » ESPNU

Georgetown wasn't particularly demoralized by its 49-48 defeat Saturday at Marquette, its fourth straight loss on the road to the Golden Eagles. The Panthers are in an even more urgent situation, looking at the possibility of a 0-3 start for the second straight year after being ranked the last two weeks.

Pitt and Georgetown are the stingiest two defenses in the Big East and ranked fifth and seventh nationally, allowing their opponents to put up just 53.5 and 54.3 points, respectively.

But the Hoyas have dropped to 14th in the league in scoring following the third game this season in which they have failed to register at least 50 points. The last time that occurred was under John Thompson Jr. during the 1981-82 season.

Marquette's largest margin in the game was seven points, and only four Georgetown players scored. Hoyas junior forward Nate Lubick, who wasn't one of them, said a tight, low-scoring affair can be more hectic than one in which both teams are scoring at will. Georgetown led by as many as eight in its 37-36 win over Tennessee, but its biggest advantage in the 46-40 win over Towson was the final score.

"It's totally different, and you can even see it with the way we played Indiana," Lubick said. "A lot of it comes with conference play. Everybody always talks about 'Big East teams beat up each other and that's why they don't do stuff in the tournament.' But these are defensive, tough-minded coaches who are preaching that stuff. In the other games, it's about getting stops, and lately it's been more about getting scores."

The Hoosiers beat the Hoyas 82-72 in overtime but never had a double-digit lead during regulation.

"If it's a tight game where the shots are falling, that means we're not defending," Thompson III joked. "A tight game is a tight game. When you come down to the end, you have to make the right decisions."

cstouffer@washingtonexaminer.com

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