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March 14, 2008
NEW YORK ? It may not be time to add Georgetown to the discussion for No. 1 seeds for the NCAA Tournament just yet, but the Hoyas deserve to talked about as one of the favorites to win the national title.
No team has been more impressive thus far in the postseason. One day after hitting a school-record 17 three-pointers in a 19-point rout of Villanova, the top-seeded Hoyas (27-4) turned around and rode a 25-point performance from 7-foot-2 center Roy Hibbert to a 72-55 thrashing of fifth-seeded West Virginia (23-10) in the semifinals of the Big East Tournament in Madison Square Garden on Friday night.
Louisville coach Rick Pitino may have to take some of the credit for Georgetown's recent dominance. Pitino labeled Georgetown "lucky" after its 55-53 win over the Cardinals on Saturday which decided the regular-season title, a comment that seemed to irk many of the normally stoic Hoyas.
"You can say this win is lucky and that win is lucky, but we belong where we are," Georgetown forward Patrick Ewing Jr. said. "We just beat two of the better teams in our conference handily."
The Hoyas can also feel confident in their star center again. Hibbert, who was scoreless and fouled out in 14 minutes against Villanova, took full advantage of a West Virginia defense that mainly stuck to a man-to-man approach. Hibbert scored 13 points in the first half ? three on the third 3-pointer of his career ? as the Hoyas took a 33-21 advantage into halftime. Hibbert added two more baskets during a decisive 16-0 second-half run that put the Hoyas up 67-47 with 3:38 remaining, the last of which sent the normally soft-spoken giant yelling at the crowd.
"I was just saying I'm a monster right now," Hibbert said. "I'm a monster, be afraid. I don't really show a lot of emotion, but it's just the way our team was just working, and the way we were getting the stops."
Hibbert finished with 13 of the Hoyas' 40 rebounds. The Mountaineers had 22.
Georgetown also managed to hold West Virginia star Joe Alexander to 12 points on 5-of-16 shooting. Alexander, who was guarded by multiple defenders, came into the game as the nation's hottest player, averaging 29.8 points over his past five games.
WVU coach Bob Huggins credited the disparity in the rebounds and Alexander's struggles more to the Hoyas than a lack of effort by his own team. "They're good," Huggins said. "I mean, it was a whole lot more them than it was us. They were 15-3 in this league, and this is the best league in the country. I mean, they're just good."
They might be good enough for a No. 1 seed with a convincing win over Pitt in Saturday's Big East final, especially if some of the other projected top seeds falter in their league tournaments.
The Hoyas entered the tournament in line for a No. 2 seed, but another win would give them seven over teams in the top 50 of the RPI. Plus, three of the Hoyas' four losses are to teams in the top 25 of the RPI (Memphis, Pitt and Louisville).
In the nightcap, Sam Young scored 22 points to lead Pitt past Marquette. The Panthers will try to become the second team to win the Big East Tournament by winning four games in four days. Syracuse did it in 2006 as a No. 9 seed.
Pitt's defense led the way; the Panthers held Marquette to 31.1 percent shooting.
Georgetown blasted the Panthers 65-42 in last season's title game. This is Pitt's seventh final in eight seasons, but the Panthers have won just once, in 2003.
"We understand what it's about," Panthers coach Jamie Dixon said. "We do. It's a cliche, but we do take it one game at a time. We don't talk about it as a tournament; we talk about it as the next game that we've got."
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