Last word: (8) Badgers 48, Virginia 38
By ZACH HEILPRIN
Player of the game: Josh Gasser
The junior guard did it all for the Badgers on Wednesday night. He led them in scoring with 11 points, including a pair of 3-pointers, added four rebounds and played lockdown defense on Virginia’s Joe Harris. With Gasser missing last year’s game with a knee injury Harris went for 22 points. In the rematch, with Gasser draped over him, Harris was 1 of 10 and scored just two points – his second lowest output in the past two seasons. He also may have made the play of the game. With the Badgers leading by seven, and just under three minutes left in the game, Harris stole the ball from Frank Kaminsky and had a fast break opportunity. Gasser hustled back, got in position and drew a charge. The game was never in doubt after that point.
The good: Defense, defense
Through the first eight games of the year many had praised the Badgers improvements on offense while also taking shots at their defensive liabilities. Against Virginia, with their shots not falling, they played stellar at the other end of the floor. Wisconsin held Tony Bennett’s squad to 23-percent (11 of 47) shooting on the night, and they had just three field goals after halftime. In fact, the only shot they made from outside of the paint the entire night was a 3-pointer by London Perrantes in the first half. The 38 points was the lowest in Bennett’s five years and the second lowest since 1986 when the shot clock was brought into the college game. Wisconsin also got after most of the loose balls and allowed Virginia to score just four second-chance points.
The bad: Sad shooting
Virginia wasn’t the only one that had a tough night shooting. The Badgers weren’t much better, shooting a season-low 28-percent (15 of 52) for the night, including 21-percent (5 of 23) from 3-point range. The point total was the fewest since last year’s first round NCAA Tournament loss to Ole Miss when they put up 46 points. Much of their struggles can be attributed to the strong defense that the Cavaliers played – not a surprise when the coaches’ last name is Bennett – but even when they did get open shots they weren’t able to finish. Sam Dekker was 1 of 8 from the field and Traevon Jackson was just 3 of 13. The Badgers also had issues at the free throw line where they shot 65-percent (13 of 20).
Stat of the game: Rebound margin
All the talk leading up to the game was of last year’s matchup when Virginia owned the glass, outrebounding the Badgers 36-25. On Wednesday, Wisconsin flipped the advantage on them and grabbing 40 of the 74 rebounds available. Kaminsky had 12 on the night, half of which came on the offensive end. That led to 13 second-chance points for Bo Ryan’s group.
Odds and ends:
- With the win, Bo Ryan now had 300 career victories at Wisconsin. He becomes the ninth coach in Big Ten history to reach that number at one school.
- The Badgers are now 9-0 on the season. That’s the second-best start in school history, topped only by the 1993-94 team that began 11-0.
The Badgers return home for a contest with in-state rival Marquette on Saturday at the Kohl Center.
Listen to Zach Heilprin every weekday on “The Jump Around” at ESPNWisconsin.com, and follow him on Twitter: @zachheilprin