Wisconsin and Virginia are two college basketball programs known for their perennially tough defense. Naturally, Monday night’s matchup in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge was a low scoring affair.
Virginia’s defense would hold Ethan Happ and company to just 31.3 percent from the field, handing Wisconsin its fourth loss in five games. All four losses were to ranked opponents. Kyle Guy had 17 points and Devon Hall chipped in 16, propelling Virginia to a 49-37 win. Guy and Hall were the only Cavaliers in double-digits, but that was all they would need against the Badgers.
Wisconsin’s 37 points on Monday night were well below their previous low output of 65 against Baylor on November 20. The Badgers scored just 17 second-half points.
Virginia jumped out to an early 9-2 lead on the Badgers as Wisconsin started out 1-of-6 from the field. Hall scored a quick nine points for the Cavaliers but had to head to the bench with more than 10 minutes left in the first half because of foul trouble.
The Badgers would battle back as Aleem Ford hit two threes from virtually the same spot, right on the left wing, and cut the deficit down to four 22-18. Ford’s two threes were the only makes from beyond the arch for Wisconsin in the first half, which shot an abysmal 2-of-11 on three-pointers.
Virginia’s tough defense would keep Ethan Happ under wraps in the first half, containing him to just four points. Virginia doubled Wisconsin’s points in the paint during the first 20 minutes, which is unusual as Wisconsin normally dominates the paint.
Happ would get it going early during the second half. The All-American was the beneficiary of some beautiful no-look passing from D’Mitrik Trice, but every time the Badgers would inch closer, Guy was there with another mid-range jumper to get the Virginia crowd back into it.
The Cavaliers scored 18 of the first 24 second-half points, ballooning their lead up to 42-26. Wisconsin would never recover.
Virginia shot just 3-of-14 from beyond the three-point line, but for tonight, that was fine, because the Badgers miraculously shot even worse from outside, going just 3-of-20 from beyond the arch.
Brad Davison received a scare when his shoulder popped out of place, the second time it happened during this young season. The freshman would get it popped back in and re-enter the game. Davison’s shoulder was the least of his worries, however, as he shot just 2-of-10 from the field in his worst offensive collegiate game.
Happ finished with 14, Trice chipped in 10. Only five Badgers scored on the night.
The Badgers open up Big Ten play on Saturday against Ohio State.