Trying to avoid their first 0-3 start in program history, the Georgetown Hoyas (1-2) kicked off the 2K Classic at Madison Square Garden in New York City with a 71-61 victory over the Wisconsin Badgers (2-2), avenging a loss to the Badgers last season in the Bahamas.
“We’ve been itching to get our first win of this season so this will start the train for a good season for us,” sophomore forward Isaac Copeland said.
Copeland was the team’s leading scorer with 15 points on 5-of-9 shooting, including 3-of-4 from three-point range. Junior forward Reggie Cameron had one of the best games of his career, hitting 4-of-6 three-point attempts on his way to scoring a career-high 14 points, to go along with three rebounds and two assists.
Wisconsin junior forward Nigel Hayes had a game-high 22 points on 7-of-17 shooting, and was the main reason that the Badgers were able to stay within striking distance of the Hoyas throughout the game. Dynamic junior guard Bronson Koenig was held in check by the Georgetown defense, going 2-of-12 from the field and only scoring nine points overall.
Georgetown led throughout the game, aided by solid shooting. It shot 42.9 percent from the field, including 50 percent from beyond the arc. Hayes did his best to keep the Badgers in it, causing problems for the Georgetown defense. He had a highlight-reel putback dunk late in the first half and was fouled in the process, bringing Wisconsin within five points after he hit the free throw. The Hoyas took a slim 27-22 lead into the locker room at halftime, largely thanks to 14 first-half points from Cameron, who was active on both offense and defense throughout the night. Cameron went 4-for-5 from three-point range in the first half and also drew a couple of charges on Wisconsin players.
“I think this meant a lot for us, as of right now, but also going back to last year. We lost a tough game against Wisconsin last year in the Bahamas and it hurt us a lot. I think the guys that were a part of that last year wanted to come out and get them back,” Cameron said after the game.
Copeland took over for the Hoyas in the second half, scoring all of his 15 points in the half and pulling down five rebounds.
“You’re starting to see a small glimpse of what he brings to the table,” Head Coach John Thompson III said.
Georgetown stretched its lead to 64-50 and did not look back, as Wisconsin would not be able to muster a comeback with time winding down.
Senior guard and co-captain D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera had another poor performance, scoring 12 points, but with seven of those points coming from the charity stripe. He went 2-of-9 from the field and had only four assists. On the season, Smith-Rivera is averaging 13.7 points per game and is shooting 40.6 percent from the field. However, Thompson is not concerned about his senior guard’s tough start to the season.
“I’m not worried about that. He’ll be fine. He’ll be fine,” Thompson said.
The Hoyas will need Smith-Rivera to come ready to play when they face the defending national champion Duke Blue Devils (3-1) in the championship game of the 2K Classic.
“It doesn’t get any easier,” Thompson said.
Duke narrowly beat Virginia Commonwealth (2-1) Friday night, 79-71, in a game in which the Rams led the Blue Devils 39-38 at halftime. The Blue Devils lost to the No. 2 Kentucky Wildcats (3-0) on Tuesday by a score of 74-63, and will pose a significant challenge for the Hoyas with the size on their team.
Tipoff is set for 1 p.m. at Madison Square Garden.