WASHINGTON – Georgetown shook off some bad pregame news and then jumped all over Providence before ultimately holding on for a 74-65 victory that brought the Hoyas back to .500 in the Big East after an 0-2 start.
Otto Porter Jr scored 20 points while Markel Starks provided 16 points and seven assists as the Hoyas looked surprisingly efficient on the offensive end for the second game in a row without second leading scorer (12.1) -and rebounder (7.0) – sophomore Greg Whittington.
An hour before tip-off it was announced that Whittington would be out until further notice after being declared academically ineligible.
Without Whittington, Georgetown (12-3, 2-2) looked nothing like the team that last showed up against Pittsburgh on January 8th.
In what might have been Whittington’s final game of the season, Georgetown hit just 13 field goals in one of the worst losses in the program’s history.
“Obviously Greg is one of our better players and we miss him,” Coach John Thompson III said.
“With that being said you have to adjust and adapt to things strategically as a coach, but at the same time players have to step up and play without forcing it.”
It’s only been two games but so far that seems to me three things.
Gone are the games in the 40’s, here are back-to-back wins scoring 67 and then 74 points in a more uptempo fashion behind a deeper bench.
Against Providence (9-8, 1-4), the Hoyas put up a nearly flawless first half by hitting 67 percent from the field and assisting on 11 of 16 made shots in taking a commanding 38-19 lead into halftime.
It wasn’t all just offensive either as Georgetown held the Big East’s leading scorer, Bryce Cotton, to just five first half points.
Georgetown took its biggest lead of the game at 43-21 after a Jabril Trawick, who started his second straight game in place of Whittington, layup with 17:17 remaining.
Providence responded with a 15-2 run that brought the Friars back to within 46-36 after a Cotton three-pointer.
Cotton would finish on his average by scoring a game high 21 points on 7-of-16 shooting, including 5-of-12 from three-point range.
The one area most concerning in Whittington’s indefinite absence is rebounding, and it was on display as Providence tried to crawl back into the game. The Friars outrebounded Georgetown 39-27, including a gap of 17-5 on the offensive glass.
Said Thompson III: “What I’ve talked about with them more than anything is who is going to make up for Greg’s rebounding? I think a lot of times people think about scoring, but who is going to make up for Greg’s rebounding? That is where we’ve focused the discussions with them.”
Providence would get to as close as seven on two occasions, the last at 69-62 with 1:29 remaining but good free throw shooting (19-of-25) by the Hoyas saw them hang onto their second straight win after consecutive losses.
Nate Lubick added 10 points and in all eight players scored at least five points, a far cry from the unbalanced effort just three games ago in a 49-48 loss to Marquette that saw just four Hoyas get into the scoring column of the box score.
Notes: In grabbing some of Whittington’s now-available minutes, junior Aaron Bowen scored a career-high eight points, including two three pointers during a big first half run by the Hoyas. “He’s doing his job. As someone goes down we have to have someone ready to step up. He’s getting the opportunity to play and he’s made some big plays and we expect him to make plays,” said Thompson III….After the win, Thompson III left open the possibility of Whittington returning before the end of the season. Those details, however, remain unclear.
Up Next: Georgetown travels to Tampa on Saturday to take on South Florida (9-6, 0-3) at 6 PM. The Hoyas are 2-1 on the road against the Bulls and lead the all-time series 8-3.