Georgetown's big men have come up small in recent games without its largest member available.
Just staying on the court has proven challenging for Nate Lubick, Mikael Hopkins and Moses Ayegba.
The Hoyas (11-5, 3-2 Big East) have played the past three games without 6-foot-10, 350-pound center Joshua Smith. Georgetown's third-leading scorer and top interior threat remains in limbo with an academic issue. Smith is not expected to play in Saturday's home game versus Seton Hall.
In Wednesday's stunning loss at Xavier, Lubick, Hopkins and Ayegba played a combined 73 minutes. In that time, they scored eight points on 3 of 9 shooting. The limited offensive production from the power forward and center spots led Georgetown coach John Thompson III to play guards Markel Starks and D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera all 40 minutes.
"No it's too much. We have to give them a blow," Thompson said at Friday's media session when asked about those minutes. "But they were the only ones scoring for us."
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That scenario cannot last if the Hoyas' Big East regular season title and NCAA Tournament are to remain.
"They have to play better. They have to give us more," Thompson said of his remaining inside options. "It's a big adjustment when you're playing without Josh, there is no doubt about it. The couple of games we've had to play without him have been different...Even when he is not scoring he commands a presence that it's much different. We have to adjust and get a lot more from the guys that we have."
Smith-Rivera and Starks combine for 33 points per game. Without Smith (11.5 ppg), who leads the Big East in field goal percentage, or guard Jabril Trawick (broken jaw), Hopkins stands as Georgetown's third-leading scorer with 6.2 points.
Lubick averages 5.7 points and a team-high 5.8 rebounds, but only had two versus Xavier and the trio only grabbed seven total. Georgetown lost the battle of the boards 36-25.
The one victory on the just-completed three-game road swing, 70-67 triumph at Butler last Saturday, went into overtime. What will be remembered from the victory is the undersized and makeshift lineup Thompson implemented because Lubick, Ayegba and finally Hopkins all fouled out in regulation. Against Xavier, they each committed at least four fouls and Ayegba fouled out in 18 minutes.
"Being depleted going into a game and then having the frontline getting in foul trouble, it's hard to manage," said Thompson, who used only seven players against Xavier. "I don't want the guys to not be aggressive. You don't want to all of a sudden start giving up easy fouls because guys are like, 'hey coach, I don't want to foul,' but we have to work on how to defend better without fouling and not picking up cheap offensive fouls. We've gotten some of those too the last couple of games."
Seton Hall (10-7, 1-3) center Eugene Teague (concussion) is expected face the Hoyas. The 6-foot-9, 270-pound senior ranks second among all conference players with 9.4 rebounds though he has yet to play in a Big East game this season.
The Hoyas have the size to make Teague's return uncomfortable. Whether Lubick, Hopkins and Ayegba can come up big with their own production is the question.
"I don't think we've been doing a great job, to be honest," Lubick said. "We really need to do a better job. Obviously, rebounding has been an issue and it's something that we really need to take care of."