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Zanna feels at home as Pitt upsets No. 19 Georgetown

The SportsXchange

WASHINGTON -- Talib Zanna was born in Nigeria but he said Tuesday he got serious about basketball when he played in high school at McNamara High in nearby Prince George's County, Md.

He returned to the area this week and helped Pittsburgh beat No. 19 Georgetown 73-45 on Tuesday night in a Big East Conference game at the Verizon Center.

Zanna had 15 points and Tray Wooodall had 11 points and seven assists for the Panthers (13-3, 1-2 Big East).

"This is where I came to play basketball," Zanna said. "I had a lot of friends here, about 14 to 16 friends. We came out ready."

Georgetown (10-3, 0-2) at times appeared hesitant to shoot from the outside.

"We noticed that. They had a lot of turnovers," said Zanna, who helped force the Hoyas into 17 turnovers and a field goal percentage of 35.1 percent.

The margin of victory was the second-biggest on the road in Big East history for Pittsburgh and was the worst loss for the Hoyas at the Verizon Center.

Zanna is one of five players with the Panthers who either grew up or played high school ball in the Baltimore-Washington area.

"That is the thing, his work ethic," Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said of Zanna. "He has made himself into a player. Coaches we talk to can't believe what he has become. He works hard. Start with that and good things will happen. He is relentless and works hard. He is getting better every day."

"I am very proud of our guys and how we responded to a disappointing start. We came out and played well. I know (Georgetown) will respond and come back. They are a great program and a great team. We made some shots and it got us going. Aggressiveness was a key for us. We used our depth to our advantage."

The Hoyas have scored 48 points or less in the last two games and four times overall this season.

"I thought they were extremely physical," Georgetown head coach John Thompson III said of Pitt. "Our defense was nowhere near where it has been all of the year. It is embarrassing. Today was very disappointing. We know we have some things that need to be addressed. Tonight it is very disappointing. It is not bad luck with the rims.

"It is not like we are sticking our heads in the sand. You have to give them credit. A lot of those looks (on offense) were open. We have a lot of things we need to work on."

Woodall had just two turnovers in 32 minutes of play.

"Woodall is terrific. He is very good. He makes them go," Thompson said.

The Panthers, who are headed to the ACC, led 37-22 at halftime and continued to build their lead in the second half thanks to a strong inside game.

Pittsburgh took a 51-34 lead on an offensive rebound and field goal by reserve J.J. Moore (nine points). Lamar Patterson (five points, seven rebounds) tipped in another offensive rebound to make it 53-34 with 8:36 to go.

The Panthers led 64-39 with 4:03 left and cruised to the win against Georgetown.

The Hoyas were paced by Otto Porter Jr., who scored nine points. Nate Lubick added seven points and seven rebounds.

"We struggled rebounding the ball in both halves. It was frustrating. We tried to remain positive," Lubick said. "We have some things we need to address. We are positive we can fix these things and move from there."

Georgetown struggled in the first half to get off high-percentage shots, while Pitt worked the ball inside for several dunks and layups. The Panthers also got big baskets from reserves in the first half.

"We were just clicking today," Woodall said. "It is a very good Georgetown team. Our bench works extremely hard. We have 10 real good players. We have to play physical with them. We needed to come out aggressive."

The Panthers led 37-22 at the break, having recorded 11 assists on 15 field goals. The Pitt bench outscored the Georgetown reserves 17-6 in the first half. The Panthers had a 15-9 rebounding edge, and the Hoyas shot just 37.5 percent in the first 20 minutes.

NOTES: Georgetown leads the series 41-36. The Hoyas are 23-14 at home against the Panthers, with a mark of 4-8 at the Verizon Center. The teams split a pair of games last season, with the Hoyas winning 64-52 in the Big East tournament. ... Next up for Georgetown is a game on Saturday at St. John's. Pitt hosts Marquette the same day. ... Sitting courtside were Bradley Beal of the Washington Wizards and Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals. ... The Hoyas were coming off a loss at Marquette on Saturday, while Pittsburgh lost the same day at Rutgers.
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