The No. 16 Wisconsin Badgers defeated the Georgetown Hoyas 73-57 on Tuesday night to reach the Maui Jim Maui Invitational championship game.
The story of the night was Wisconsin’s ability to out-muscle the Hoyas. Wisconsin (4-1) out-rebounded Georgetown (2-3) 50-21.
Sophomore Ethan Happ tied a career-high with 15 rebounds to lead the way for the Badgers on the boards. Happ also chipped in 19 points, while senior Bronson Koenig led all scorers with 20 points.
Big Ten Preseason Player of the Year Nigel Hayes finished with six points and six rebounds.
Koenig started off hot, hitting two of three from behind the arc in the opening minutes of the game. He finished 2-of-8 from deep and Wisconsin as a team shot 22.7 percent (5-of-22) from the behind the arc.
In a game that featured several runs by each team, Wisconsin only relinquished the lead once when Georgetown senior Rodney Pryor hit a three-pointer with 18:59 left in the first half, putting the Hoyas up 3-2.
Pryor finished with 14 points, second to junior L.J. Peak, who led Georgetown with 18.
Koenig then followed up Pryor’s three with one of his own to put Wisconsin up 5-3. From there, it was all Wisconsin.
Georgetown was able to bring the score within one several times in the first half, as late as 38 seconds remaining before halftime at 30-29. Senior Zak Showalter closed the half for Wisconsin with a layup, putting the Badgers up 32-29 at the break.
Wisconsin started the second half on a tear, going on an 8-2 run that included six straight points by Happ, including a coast-to-coast steal and dunk.
While Wisconsin did out-rebound Georgetown, the main attributing factor in the Badgers doing so was their ability to clean up the glass on offense, where they held a 20-1 edge.
No offensive rebound was as big as the one that followed sophomore Alex Illikainen’s miss in the second half. Sophomore Khalil Iverson put it back with this thunderous dunk:
Khalil with another ‼️ pic.twitter.com/4gXkhHOu8i— Wisconsin Basketball (@BadgerMBB) November 23, 2016
The Badgers outscored Georgetown 41-28 in the second half and the Hoyas were only able to get within six points of the Badgers following Wisconsin’s opening 8-2 run.
The second half also saw senior Vitto Brown living up to his “3tto Brown” nickname as he went 3-of-4 from behind the arc. Brown finished with nine points, and he and Koenig were the only two Badgers to hit from long range. Georgetown seemed to lose steam down the stretch much to the dismay of head coach John Thompson III, and the offensive rebounds just started to come easier for Wisconsin.
Iverson put an exclamation point on the Wisconsin win when he threw down a one-handed dunk with 1:50 remaining in the game. Iverson finished with 10 points.
Wisconsin will face the winner of No. 4 North Carolina (5-0) and Oklahoma State (4-0), Friday night as it looks to win the Maui Jim Maui Invitational.