One day after knocking off one team from the 2014 Final Four, the Georgetown Hoyas were set to take on another.
The Wisconsin Badgers, a National Championship contender with two of the nation's most talented players in Sam Dekker and Frank Kaminsky, were standing in the way of the Hoyas making a startling scamper to the tournament's championship game. John Thompson III's team already shocked many with its overtime victory over the Florida Gators on Wednesday.
And now, with a Thanksgiving Day crowd watching, and one of the most talented teams in the country in front of them, would the Hoyas be able to continue making waves?
Despite an uproarious performance from D`Vauntes Smith-Rivera, Georgetown's sensational guard, the trio of Dekker, Nigel Hayes and Brandon Koenig combined for 46 points, and that would help pave the way for Wisconsin to snag a 68-65 victory from Georgetown en route to the finals of the star-studded tournament.
Kaminsky was expected to be a focal point for the Georgetown defense. And as fate would have it, the Hoyas effectively took him out of the equation. They frustrated him early and often, and held him to only six points. This was Kaminsky's lowest output since the Badgers' Final Four meeting against eventual National Runner Up Kentucky, and he had not matched a six-point effort since a March 14 meeting against rival Minnesota.
"Frank the Tank," as they call him in Madison, converted only one field goal attempt despite playing 37 minutes. Not since Wisconsin took on Ohio State on February 1 had the 7-footer been held to just one make.
Joshua Smith, who was matched up with Kaminsky on this Thanksgiving afternoon, was stout on both ends. He, and the rest of the Hoya defenders, did a marvelous job of snuffing out any chance for the National Player of the Year candidate to get going. Offensively, Smith scored 10 points and made four of six free throw attempts. However, he could not contribute on the rebounding end, as he amassed just three.
Standing out from this game, however, was the play of the freshmen for Georgetown. Paul White had seven points in 26 minutes, but scoring from the others was hard to come by. The combination of Tre Campbell, L.J. Peak, and Isaac Copeland could only combine for five total points. Copeland was held to no points scored, and played just five minutes in the game.
What you can't do, though, is take away the magnificent performance from D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera. Tabbed as the Preseason Player of the Year by the league's coaches, DSR exploded for 29 points against the best defense in the country based on Adjusted Defensive Efficiency (Points/100 Possessions). He did so while shooting 61.1 percent from the field, and went 5-6 from the perimeter.
If nothing else, it seems that Smith-Rivera's early struggles seem to be over. After combining for 15 points in his first two games of the year, he's gotten into double figures in his last three games.
The Badgers move on to play the Oklahoma Sooners for the Battle 4 Atlantis Championship on Friday afternoon. Meanwhile, the Big East gets put on display a little early this year. Georgetown will be taking on the Butler Bulldogs on Friday as well in the Third Place Game in the tourney. It should be noted, of course, that the game will not count to either team's conference record.