Nov 22, 2016; Lahaina, Maui, HI, USA; Wisconsin Badgers fans react to a three pointer against the Georgetown Hoyas (Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports)
Brian Spurlock/Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
LAHAINA, Hawaii — Wisconsin's work on the glass has earned the Badgers a shot at the Mau Invitational title.
Ethan Happ had 19 points and 15 rebounds, Bronson Koenig scored 20 points and No. 16 Wisconsin overwhelmed Georgetown on the boards in a 73-57 win Tuesday.
The Badgers had a 19-1 advantage on offensive rebounds, leading to 20 second-chance points, and a 50-21 edge overall.
“I don't think we're where we need to be or can be anywhere near that yet,” Wisconsin coach Greg Gard said. “But tonight was definitely a step in the right direction and obviously their rebounding shows the effort part of that, which has always been there.”
Wisconsin (4-1) used a short burst out of halftime to take control and stayed there behind the inside-out game of Happ and Koenig.
The Badgers went 5 for 22 from 3-point range but made up for it inside, outscoring the Hoyas 38-16 in the paint and cleaning up nearly everything that came off the rim.
The victory put Wisconsin in Wednesday night's championship game against No. 4 North Carolina or Oklahoma State.
“I thought everybody did a good job of working hard and trying to get position and just going to the glass every single time, whether they thought it was a make or a miss, everyone went to the glass,” Koenig said.
Georgetown (2-3) held its own through the first half despite not shooting particularly well. The Hoyas never found their touch in the second half and had no answer for Wisconsin's push after the break.
LJ Peak led Georgetown with 18 points and Rodney Pryor had 14.
“We have to get some guys that understand that it's not just about points and minutes, and care about all aspects of the game,” Hoyas coach John Thompson III said.
Neither team shot very well in the first half, except for Koenig and Pryor.
Koenig was looking for his shot early, scoring eight quick points. He had 14 at halftime on 5-of-10 shooting to help the Badgers to a 32-29 lead.
Pryor, who had 26 points against Oregon, scored 11 on 4-of-8 shooting, including 3 of 5 from beyond the 3-point arc.
Wisconsin opened the second half with a brief burst and Koenig banked one in from nearly straight on, pushing its lead to 44-34.
The Badgers began to stretch the lead from there, extending it to 53-39 on Charles Thomas' putback midway through.
Georgetown never made up the difference.
“They don't beat themselves,” Thompson said. “You have to go out and find a way to beat them.”
The Badgers have bounced back nicely from a loss to Creighton with two wins in Maui and can cap it off with the title on Wednesday.
The Hoyas put up a fight early, but have work to do if they're going to compete with teams as talented as Wisconsin.
Unless the Badgers get blown out in the title game, their run in Maui should move them up a notch or two in next week's poll.
Wisconsin will face the winner between No. 4 North Carolina and Oklahoma State in Wednesday's championship game.
Georgetown faces the North Carolina-Oklahoma State loser in the third-place game.