Win over IU is personal for Indianapolis native D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera

NEW YORK — For D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera, this was personal.

Growing up in Indianapolis, the Georgetown guard became familiar with Indiana’s Yogi Ferrell at a young age. He was recruited by Indiana for a time in high school while attending North Central and he still remembered the burn of losing to the Hoosiers in an overtime thriller two years ago in Brooklyn.

So during the week leading into Saturday’s matchup at Madison Square Garden, Smith-Rivera kept reminding himself what it would mean to win this one.

He was rewarded in the Hoyas’ 91-87 overtime victory, supplying a game-high 29 points to carry his team. Smith-Rivera shot 9-of-18 from the floor and went 5-of-7 from beyond the arc, hitting four of his 3-pointers in the second half.

Two years ago in an 82-72 Indiana win at the Barclays Center, Smith-Rivera finished with only a single field goal — a 3-pointer — in 10 minutes of action.

“It’s big,” Smith-Rivera admitted after the game. “My freshman year we lost to them. Me and coach talked about that all week coming into the game. So it’s personal for me, (Aaron) Bowen and all the guys involved with that game (two years ago) so we wanted to come out with a win this time.”

Georgetown’s success is often predicated on whether Smith-Rivera, the Big East Preseason Player of the Year, is shooting well. The junior has been uneven at times this season, including during a pedestrian 17 minutes of first-half action.

But Smith-Rivera became a handful for Indiana to guard in the second half. He got hot from deep, hitting three 3-pointers in the first four minutes of the second half and he took advantage of Indiana’s need to double down on 6-foot-10, 350-pound Georgetown center Josh Smith midway through the second half.

Smith-Rivera later traded baskets with Ferrell down the stretch, scoring 24 of his points over his final 25 minutes on the floor.

“There were moments when we both flourished,” Smith-Rivera said. “I’ve grown up with Yogi since kindergarten. I’ve known him forever and we’ve always been great friends. There’s always been a rivalry, but I’m winning right now.”