Georgetown beats Providence after learning Greg Whittington is academically ineligible

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Sports,College,Craig Stouffer,Georgetown University

For the second straight game, Georgetown played without second-leading scorer and rebounder Greg Whittington.

For the second straight game, the Hoyas still won handily.

The way Georgetown held off a scrappy Providence team during the second half of Wednesday's 74-65 victory before 9,210 at Verizon Center wasn't pretty. A crisp-shooting first half created just enough of a buffer to make it tolerable.

"Obviously Greg is one of our better players and we miss him," Hoyas coach John Thompson III said. "That being said, you have to adjust and adapt a few things strategically as a coach. But at the same time, players gotta step up and play."

Otto Porter Jr. (20 points, eight rebounds) and Markel Starks (16 points, seven assists, three steals) did their share, combining to convert eight of their first 10 shots as the Hoyas hit 66.7 percent of their field goals in the first half.

"I'm sure it's a relief for the fan base and you all as well," Starks said. "It's also a relief for us as well. When the ball is going in, it definitely puts some smiles on people's faces."

Porter drained his first 3-pointer, and when he badly missed the second, he chased down the ball, stole it back and powered through the lane to draw contact and finish high off the glass.

Aaron Bowen (eight points) took advantage of his newfound responsibility because of Whittington's absence with two early 3-pointers, the fifth and sixth of his career. He celebrated the first as if it had come in garbage time, spinning and bouncing around as he backpedaled down the court, but managed to stay calm when he hit the second a minute later.

Starks poked the ball loose and fed Mikael Hopkins (eight points, four blocks) for a fast-break layup and a 22-12 lead. Nate Lubick (10 points, four rebounds) scored six straight for the Hoyas (12-3, 2-2 Big East), who went on a 14-3 run to close the half. Ahead 38-19, the lead was their biggest at halftime all season.

At that point, Providence was shooting 27.6 percent, but coach Ed Cooley lamented his defense.

"Everybody scouts each other," Cooley said. "What'd we spend, $500,000 on an editing machine? That [stuff] ain't getting us any wins right now."

The Friars (9-8, 1-4) clawed back behind Bryce Cotton (21 points) and LaDontae Henton (14 points), who combined for 26 points in the second half, and pressure defense that rattled Georgetown's composure.

"I think they just decided to make the game ugly," Thompson said. "Our transition defense was horrible because we miss a bunny and then all of a sudden, they're off and running and getting an easy shot at the other end."

Porter's shot clock beating 3-pointer helped the Hoyas pull away after the Friars got within eight, and Providence hurt itself with turnovers down the stretch after cutting the lead to seven.

Georgetown announced before the game that Whittington (12.1 points per game, 7.0 rebounds per game) was declared academically ineligible on an indefinite basis. He was replaced in the starting lineup by Jabril Trawick. A day before the team had said Whittington was going to miss his second straight game because of a violation of team rules.

"Insufficient academic progress is a violation of team rules, so that didn't change," Thompson said. "But I think that the situation -- we got a couple of reads, results this morning where it became more definitive than it was yesterday or prior to that. At that point, there was no need to put that out there until we got a read on exactly where we stood. We got some news this morning, and that's the change."

Asked whether Whittington has a chance to come back this season, Thompson answered, "Yes."

cstouffer@washingtonexaminer.com

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