Faced with its toughest test of the young season, Wisconsin looked more like the team that dropped its season opener to Western Illinois and less like the one that impressed in wins over Siena and North Dakota.
The Badgers (2-2) struggled mightily on offense throughout almost the entirety of the game and never once led, as the Hoyas (1-2) rolled to a 71-61 victory in the 2K Sports Classic at Madison Square Garden.
Junior forward Nigel Hayes was a bright spot for the Badgers, scoring 22 points on 7-16 shooting. Ethan Happ added 12 points and 10 rebounds to record his first career double-double, but Wisconsin as a team failed to find much rhythm offensively.
The Badgers shot just 32.8 percent from the field, including 26.3 percent from 3-point range. They came stumbling out of the gates, with their first points of the game not coming until the 13:32 mark of the first half, when Hayes got UW on the board with a thunderous dunk.
By comparison, Georgetown shot 42.6 percent as a team, including a 50 percent mark from beyond the arc.
But despite its offensive struggles, Wisconsin stayed close throughout the first half, as the Hoyas also failed to generate much offense. Georgetown took a 27-22 lead into the locker room at halftime.
The Badgers came out firing in the second half, making their first four shots. Though they got within two on a couple of occasions, they could never pull even with the Hoyas, who seemed to have an answer every time Wisconsin got within striking distance.
A 16-6 run midway through the second half gave the Hoyas a comfortable 12-point lead and Wisconsin would never cut the deficit to less than seven the rest of the way.
Sophomore forward Isaac Copeland led the way for Georgetown with 15 points, while junior forward Reggie Cameron added 14 and senior guard D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera and freshman center Jessie Govan each chipped in 13 for the Hoyas.
Both teams were sloppy throughout the afternoon, combining for 44 fouls and 26 turnovers. Redshirt junior guard Zak Showalter and junior forward each fouled out for the Badgers, marking the first time that multiple Wisconsin players fouled out in a single game since a 70-66 loss to Iowa on Jan. 19, 2013.
Over the last five years, the Badgers are 12-21 when they have a player foul out and 1-5 when multiple players reach five fouls.
Wisconsin will face the loser of the Duke-VCU semifinal in the tournament’s consolation game Sunday.