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Badgered: Georgetown Gets Clobbered on the Boards, Beaten by #15 Wisconsin, 73-57

Dead-legged Hoyas can't defend or score in the half court en route to semifinal loss in Maui Invitational.

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

At least Richie Tenenbaum was there.

Luke Wilson's appearance at the semifinal of the Maui Invitational between Georgetown and Wisconsin probably was the bright spot of the Badgers' 73-57 physical and tactical beatdown of the Hoyas Tuesday night. Wisconsin grabbed 29 more rebounds than Georgetown, including plus-19 on the offensive glass, which the Badgers turned into an 18-point second-chance point advantage over the out-hustled and hapless Hoyas. Georgetown failed to make up that deficit on the offensive end, shooting just 38 percent from the field and making one of every three attempt from beyond the arc.

Both sides of the floor were a mess for Georgetown Tuesday night, but let's start with the defense. Wisconsin entered the game as an elite offensive rebounding unit, and Georgetown had no plan and no energy to counteract the Badgers' main offensive strength. The Hoyas actually held the Badgers under 40 percent from the field on first-shot opportunities, generally holding their own before the ball hit the glass. Georgetown largely accomplished this through a zone that limited its vulnerability to the perimeter penetration that has broken its defense time and again this season.  But that zone also left the Hoyas disorganized on the defensive glass, resulting in 20 Wisconsin offensive rebounds--extra possessions that they turned into basket after basket while limiting the Hoyas to just one second chance in the entire game. Wisconsin's leader on the glass was forward Ethan Happ, who amassed a gaudy line of 19 points and 15 rebounds, 8 of which were offensive.

Things weren't much better for Georgetown on the other end of the floor. Other than high-volume contributions from wing scorers LJ Peak (18 points) and Rodney Pryor (14 points), there were few offensive bright spots for Georgetown Tuesday night. Bradley Hayes made his return to the lineup after sitting out an NCAA-mandated 4 games in connection with his extra year of eligibility, scoring 6 points on typically mechanical if efficient post shots while grabbing 8 defensive rebounds that kept a disastrous defensive rebounding effort from being even worse. The only other Hoya worth mentioning on offense was Jonathan Mulmore, a speedy if erratic point guard who may be Georgetown's best option among a trio (also including Jagan Mosely and Tre Campbell) that has failed to distinguish itself thus far.

Zooming out a bit, Georgetown's perceived depth before the season has quickly thinned. Sophomore forward Marcus Derrickson, who would solve some of Georgetown's defensive rebounding and outside shooting issues, has barely taken the floor this season thanks to a not-fully-disclosed knee issue that kept him on the mainland while his teammates are in Maui. Derrickson's absence, combined with junior forward Paul White transfer to Oregon, and senior forward Reggie Cameron's indefinite leave of absence from the team, has left a previously robust forward rotation almost non-existent. The only remaining forward in the regular rotation is junior Isaac Copealnd, who has hit just 1 of 13 shots on this trip while continuing to look alternately lost an uninvested defensively. Sophomore big man Jessie Govan has not made the sophomore leap many expected, while Campbell and sophomore swingman Kaleb Johnson likewise look like the flawed, one-dimensional players they were last year.

All of this leaves Georgetown highly dependent on turnovers that result in easy baskets and heavy offensive production from Pryor, Peak, and at least one teammate. For the first half against Wisconsin, that worked well enough, as the Hoyas turned a handful of Badger turnovers into 8 points and saw steady production from their two scoring wings. But after the half, Wisconsin controlled the ball better, assaulted the offensive glass, was able to set up its defense after made baskets, and clamped down on Georgetown's offense, turning a one-possession halftime margin into a near blowout.

Five games in, it's hard to feel that this team is any better than last season's disappointment. The same recurrent problems--lack of a reliable perimeter defender, no playmaking guard, unimaginative half-court offensive sets, and the absence of sound fundamentals in individual defense, team defense, and defensive rebounding--will limit this team until they're fixed.

That assessment could change tomorrow, when Georgetown will play either #4 North Carolina or unranked Oklahoma State in the Maui third-place game. But the outlook certainly doesn't require a pair of Maui Jims tonight.