Georgetown is finally on the board with a win this season. And it’s a big one.
Three days removed from an outstanding rivalry-renewing game/loss at No. 3 Maryland, the Hoyas held off Wisconsin on Friday at Madison Square Garden in the 2K Classic, winning 71-61. The win also avenged last season’s loss to Wisconsin in the Battle 4 Atlantis, a 68-65 outcome.
For Wisconsin, the runner-up in last season’s national championship game, it’s a 2-2 start, this Hoyas loss bookended by that stunning home L to Western Illinois last Friday.
Georgetown fans should feel good (really good, in fact, in light of the Maryland performance after that odd season-opening overtime loss to Radford), considering the Hoyas handled Wisconsin despite Georgetown’s best player, D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera, putting on an uneven showing (12 points, five rebounds and four assists). Isaac Copeland tallied 15 points and eight boards. Reggie Cameron, who only the most dieheard of Hoyas fans could even identify prior to Friday, came up huge. His 14-point performance was a career-best, scoring all 14 in the first half. Hoyas newcomer Jessie Govan added 13 points and six snags.
Many people in the preseason considered Georgetown the No. 2 team in the Big East to Villanova. The Radford outcome caused some pump-faking in that regard, but the past two games should have people believing in the Hoyas again. Consider: Georgetown should be a capable team from deep, and against Bo Ryan’s D scheme, it hit nine of its 16 3-point attempts.
Georgetown’s defense combined with Wisconsin’s (oddly) inept offense to keep Bucky off the board for the first 6 1/2 minutes of the game. Wisconsin star junior Nigel Hayes, the best player to return from last season’s squad, had 22 points.
Georgetown will get the winner of Duke-VCU, which is ongoing as you read this. A win against Duke would basically negate the loss to Radford, while beating VCU would surely wind up being a nice bonus come March seeding time.
For Wisconsin, the questions are popping up big-time. Frank Kaminsky, Sam Dekker, Traevon Jackson, Josh Gasser and Duje Dukan are all gone. This is not news to anyone living in the Badger State. But still, a 2-2 start is somewhat startling. This is what college hoops fans and Badgers fans need to know: It’s going to take time. Wisconsin will not be winning the Big Ten, it won’t come close to that, but it can reach yet another NCAA Tournament under Ryan.
Having Bronson Koenig click and Hayes be the star for the team won’t be enough. The offense overall still has a lot of jelling to do; losing all of last year’s talent makes losses like Friday’s all the more stark. Wisconsin didn’t just lose, it looked lackluster in doing so, and that’s not something we’ve often said of Ryan-coached teams in the past half-decade.