By HANK KURZ Jr., AP Sports Writer
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — Always a perfectionist, especially when it comes to how No. 18 Virginia plays defense, even Tony Bennett found no room to complain.READ MORE: Stellantis Making Announcement In Kokomo Indiana; May Be EV Battery Plant
“Collectively, we did as well as we could have defensively,” Bennett said Monday night after Virginia beat Wisconsin 49-37 in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.
The Badgers’ point total represented less than half of their 75-point average, and they shot just 31 percent (15-48).
Kyle Guy scored 17 points, and the Cavaliers held Wisconsin scoreless for more than 7 minutes in the second half, turning a 30-26 lead into a 42-26 margin that was never threatened. Devon Hall scored 16 for the Cavaliers (7-0), who had a 12-0 run during the Badgers’ drought.
On the defensive end, Virginia looked to be in midseason form, but Hall said the team is still finding its way.
“I think we’re still in the midst of trying to forge our identity as a team,” he said.
That identity seemed pretty clear to Wisconsin coach Greg Gard.
“I can’t fault the effort and the energy that we played with,” he said. “But you’ve got to make shots against Virginia.”
Ethan Happ led Wisconsin (3-4) with 14 points and D’Mitrik Trice had 10, but the Badgers shot poorly all night.READ MORE: Michigan Gas Prices Increase 19 Cents Ahead Of Memorial Day
Virginia didn’t shoot much better, hitting 23 of 60 shots (38.7 percent), but the Cavaliers outrebounded the Badgers 39-30 and outscored them 34-18 in the paint. In a physical game, the Cavaliers still managed to play the entire game without attempting a free throw.
“You could tell it was going to be the type of game where you just have to grind it out,” Hall said.
The Cavaliers were playing their third game in five days.
“Both teams were tired,” Bennett said. “It was a very physical game, a lot of screens set.”
Guy was just 1 of 6 from beyond the arc after coming into the game shooting 48.3 percent on 3-pointers. He did most of his damage driving to the basket and was 7 of 9 inside the arc. Largely a one-dimensional outside shooter as a freshman, Guy has worked on getting to the rim more.
THE BIG PICTURE
Wisconsin: The Badgers are young, having lost five seniors from last year’s team. They have also played a difficult early schedule with four games against ranked teams, and they lost the first three before coming to Virginia, which debuted in the AP Top 25 on Monday. Ethan Happ had his way against Jack Salt, but Happ also was whistled for two first-half fouls.
Virginia: Guy is getting more comfortable being Virginia’s go-to scorer, and Virginia’s defense remains solid. The Badgers were the fourth team that failed to score 50 points against the Cavaliers, and two others scored 53 and 55.
Wisconsin returns home to face Ohio State on Saturday.
Virginia is at home against Lehigh on Saturday.
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