In the history of Georgetown men's basketball program, the Hoyas never started a season with three straight losses. They still haven't.
Thought shorthanded and facing last season's national runner-up, Georgetown largely controlled Wisconsin throughout thanks to numerous contributions including the latest surprise performance from a previous backbencher for a 71-61 win in the 2K Classic at Madison Square Garden. Isaac Copeland paced four double-digit scorers with 15 points and added eight rebounds.
Georgetown plays No. 5 Duke Sunday at 1:00 p.m.
Yes, everyone from head coach John Thompson III to the players to the fans can breathe a bit easier now that the Hoyas (1-2) are in the win column following a season-opening upset loss to Radford and Tuesday's 75-71 setback at Maryland.
No setbacks this time. Holding the Badgers (2-2) to 33.3 percent shooting overall and without a point for the first 6:28 helped. After Wisconsin pulled close at 11-10 with 9:57 remaining in the first half, Georgetown sank three straight 3-pointers including two from Cameron, who sank his first four from beyond the arc and scored all 14 of his points in the first half. The Hoyas kept the lead from there and entered halftime up 27-22.
Last season the Hoyas lost 68-65 to the Frank Kaminsky-led Badgers in the semifinals of the Battle for Atlantis after leading by nine points in the second half. Wisconsin forward Nigel Hayes had the decisive putback in that game and led all scorers with 22 points this time.
After Zac Showalter's 3-pointer cut Georgetown's lead to 36-34 with over 14 minutes remaining, Hoyas' guard D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera countered with his 3-pointer on the next possession, starting a 7-0 run. The lead never dipped below seven points again. Yes, a win and with minimal drama. Who knew that was an option.
Freshman center Jessie Govan scored 13 points. Smith-Rivera missed seven of nine field goal attempts, but finished with 12 points and four assists. Sophomore guard L.J. Peak added nine points, but his primary contribution came defensively against Wisconsin's Bronson Koenig. The Badgers' top scorer on the season had nine points -- 10 below his average -- on 2 of 12 shooting.
Bombs away: The Hoyas made 3's and this time, they prevented the other team from doing the same. Georgetown made 9 of 18 while holding Wisconsin to 5 of 19. Cameron finished 4 of 6 while Copeland made three of his four attempts.
Cameron Crazy: We've already had the story of senior center Bradley Hayes essentially matching his career totals in the opening two games. This time it was the 6-foot-7 junior forward generating rare production. Part of the rotation during his freshman season, Cameron received minimal playing time during his sophomore year as the incoming freshman supplanted him on the depth chart He finished the year with 27 points and five 3-pointers. That's why his lights out shooting in the first half qualified as more than a mere surprise. Granted, way back when he entered college with a shooter's reputation, but he was hitting only 29.5% (31 of 105) entering Friday. Not only did Cameron sink shots, he adeptly filled in at guard due to injuries and foul trouble.
Big change: Joshua Smith and Mikael Hopkins formed the center combination last season, giving the Hoyas interior scoring (Smith) and energy (Hopkins), but also no offensive flow. With Hayes and Govan, Georgetown's attack looks much more versatile this season. The freshman's ability to shoot from distance, but also pass from the high post allows Thompson to use portions of the playbook kept dormant in recent seasons. Govan showed his range with his second 3-pointer on the season and his vision when deftly feeding a cutting Copeland for a second half layup. Hayes only had four points and two rebounds in 14 minutes, but has scored more this season (39) than his previous three seasons (35) combined.
Missing: Cameron once again filled in with Paul White (hip) unable to play. Thompson hoped the sophomore would go in each of his last two games, but no luck. Backup point guard Tre Campbell did not make the trip due to an undisclosed illness, leaving the Hoyas light in the backcourt. Walk-on Riyan WIlliams played for the second straight game and freshman Kaleb Johnson played 25 minutes.
Here comes Duke: Grayson Allen scored a career-high 30 points as the Blue Devils (2-1) turned a one-point halftime deficit into a 79-71 over VCU in the nightcap of the 2K Classic. Duke won despite missing 15 free throws, but they made more (19) than the Rams attempted (13).
This will mark the first meeting between Georgetown and Duke since Jan. 31, 2010 when the Hoyas shot 71.7 percent from the field in front of President Barack Obama for an 89-77 victory.