The Hoyas (11-3) play Providence on Wednesday at Verizon Center in their first game since falling out of the national rankings. The Friars (9-7, 1-3 Big East) have lost seven consecutive games in the series.
“You’re going to see him, but he’s not going to be playing,” Thompson said of Whittington, who is averaging 12.1 points and seven rebounds, trailing only sophomore forward Otto Porter Jr. in both categories.
When asked if a suspension for multiple games would suggest Whittington’s infraction was significant, Thompson responded simply, “Yes,” adding there was no definitive timetable for when he would be re-inserted into the lineup.
With Whittington unavailable against the Red Storm, the Hoyas had three players score in double figures, including game highs of 19 points and 14 rebounds from Porter. Junior guard Markel Starks added 17 points, four rebounds and two assists, and junior forward Nate Lubick chipped in 11 points on 5-of-8 shooting with six rebounds and three assists.
“We’ve got to just be able to focus on who’s going out there on a certain day,” Lubick said of playing without Whittington.
Thompson also substituted more liberally, with reserves such as Moses Ayegba and Aaron Bowen playing double-figure minutes. Bowen, a 6-foot-6 redshirt sophomore, is averaging less than six minutes a game but logged 16 against St. John’s. He finished with five points and four rebounds.
Ayegba, meantime, has played 30 minutes over his previous two games following seven minutes combined during the two before that. The 6-9 junior center did not play in Georgetown’s conference opener on Jan. 5, in which the Hoyas lost to Marquette, 49-48, while using just seven players.
Ayegba, who played high school basketball at Progressive Christian after coming to the United States from Nigeria in 2009, missed all of last season while recovering from surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.
“It’s huge, and it doesn’t necessarily all come down to getting us rest, getting some of these other guys who play a lot more rest,” Lubick said of the recently expanded roles among Georgetown’s backups. “Just being able to see them help and contribute, it’s a huge thing for our team.”
So, too, has been accelerating the pace of play during unsettled situations. The Hoyas tallied 15 fast-break points against St. John’s after combining for 20 in their previous three games.
That’s not to suggest Georgetown is on the verge of abandoning its deliberate offensive approach, but players indicated making the most of those moments when there’s an opportunity to run makes the team that much less predictable and all the more difficult to defend.
And playing quicker is not exclusive to the fast break. Even in half-court sets, the Hoyas have become more attentive to moving the ball with greater alacrity, especially when they’re rebounding well, too.
“We actually enjoy getting up and down,” Porter said. “Getting a couple easy baskets, getting our adrenaline pumping a little bit more, playing defense, getting rebounds, stuff like that.”