The Wisconsin Badgers earned a spot in the Battle 4 Atlantis championship with a hard-fought 68-65 win over Georgetown Thursday afternoon in the Bahamas.
The Hoyas led for most of the Thanksgiving Day game thanks to their physical play and the offensive prowess of D`Vauntes Smith-Rivera. Georgetown's junior guard paced the game with 29 points on an efficient 11-of-18 clip from the field, including 5-of-6 from behind the arc. But the one miss was a big one, as Frank Kaminsky and Traevon Jackson finally forced an errant attempt when Smith-Rivera went up for the tie in the game's final seconds.
Wisconsin took the lead with six minutes left after Duje Dukan swished his second three in as many minutes. The open looks were the result of Dukan setting off-ball screens and then releasing to the wing for open looks. The senior, previously 3-of-12 from three-point range on the year, was able to bust out of his slump and knock down the jumpers along with a pair of free throws during the same two-minute span.
Despite those big shots, Dukan's impact off the bench was trumped by the play of sixth man Bronson Koenig. Koenig scored 10 points in the second half to keep the team in the game with Jackson and Josh Gasser spending much of the time on the pine due to foul trouble. Koenig also did an admirable job in defense of Smith-Rivera, limiting him to five points in the final 13 minutes.
Dukan and Koenig were so successful that Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said after the game that UW's seniors told him to leave them in the game during their hot streak.
Bo said Jackson and Gasser were even telling him to leave Dukan, Koenig in during the stretch run.— Bucky's 5th Quarter (@B5Q) November 27, 2014
Kaminsky played by far his worst game of the year, scoring just six points on 1-of-8 shooting from the field and continuing his struggles at the line with a 4-of-8 effort. Along with the bench, he was picked up by frontcourt mates Sam Dekker and Nigel Hayes, who scored 17 and 15, respectively.
Dekker and Hayes were also responsible for providing some comic relief following a game that felt more like a heated battle in March than a late-November warmup.
Wisconsin will face Oklahoma for the Battle 4 Atlantis title 3:30 p.m. CT Friday on ESPN.