WASHINGTON — At halftime of the biggest Big East game of the regular season, Georgetown coach John Thompson III had a simple but important message: Calm down.
In the second half, the Hoyas were a little less ragged than Pittsburgh — and their tenacious defense made the difference as they slogged their way to their 11th straight win and sole possession of first place in the Big East.
No. 12 Georgetown beat No. 10 Pitt 61-53 on Saturday, overcoming the return of Aaron Gray and giving the Hoyas their longest winning streak in 12 years. A game marred by turnovers and poor outside shooting was nevertheless a suspenseful one, and it wasn't decided until a backdoor layup and two steals in an 8-2 run near the end.
"I thought we were very antsy, very anxious," Thompson said. "That was part of the talk at halftime — just relax and play. But that's human nature, that's natural. If you can't get excited about this game, then something's wrong with you. But we had to settle down and do what we do."
Jonathan Wallace scored 17 points, Jeff Green had 14, and Roy Hibbert added 12 for the Hoyas (22-5, 12-2), who haven't had the top seed in the Big East tournament since 1989. They finish the regular season next week against Syracuse and Connecticut.
"You can't be unhappy about the position we're in — even I can't," said Thompson, who is notoriously averse to commenting on his team's position in the standings or rankings.