Game Day Grades: Virginia

Behind a dominant defensive effort, No.8 Wisconsin survived an off-night shooting to register its fifth road/neutral win of the season with a 10-point win over Virginia, getting revenge from last season. Badger Nation hands out the grades.

Offense: C

While the end result gives No.8 Wisconsin another power six win, and its fifth win away from the Kohl Center this season, where UW is 185-15 under Ryan, the shooting numbers weren't pretty and not the reason the Badgers won in Charlottesville.

Of the eight players who played for Wisconsin, only one player shot over 40 percent (Josh Gasser went 2-for-2). Sam Dekker was 1-for-8, Frank Kaminsky was 4-for-11 (1-for-4 in the second half), Ben Brust was 3-for-9 and Traevon Jackson was 3-for-13, lowering his shooting percentage to 35.5 percent on the year.

Virginia's defense crowded the post early in the game against Wisconsin, which explains why six of UW's first 12 shots were from 3-point range. The shots never really were there from 3-point range from UW, which started 2-for-10 and finished 5-for-23.

I mentioned that Gasser was the only UW player to shoot over 40 percent, but his two 3-pointers were critical. He hit a three with 8:28 left in the first half that broke a 5:04 scoreless drought for UW and tied the game at 14. UW never trailed again from that point.

After Virginia cut the second half lead to seven with eight minutes left, Gasser, on the possession following a Ben Brust jumper, hit a 3-pointer to push the lead back up to 12 with 6:24 left. UW never got closer than six the rest of the way, and Gasser's 11 points led all scorers.

Wisconsin struggled from the free throw line, shooting 6-for-12 in the second half and 13-for-20 overall, but made 5-for-7 over the final 2:30. A lot of those free throw opportunities were a result of offensive rebounds. UW grabbed 12 offensive rebounds – six courtesy of Kaminsky – that led to 13 second-chance points. Kaminsky was second on UW with nine points.

Defense: A+

Virginia started 6-for-10 on its field goals, scoring all 12 of those points in the paint. That should be no surprise to Wisconsin fans considering Virginia pummeled UW on the boards and in the paint last season, and is scoring 44 percent of its points this season.

Rebounding was a point of emphasis during the practices leading up to the Virginia game, which included subtle reminders on the team's scouting reports of the totals.

That wasn't the case in Charlottesville. Wisconsin outrebounded Virginia 18-14 in the first half and finished with a 40-34 advantage on the boards. That led to a number of one-and-done possessions for the Cavaliers and not much production in the paint.

Not only was Virginia's 38 points the lowest in the 15 year history of the Big Ten-ACC Challenge, it was the fewest points in the shot-clock era (since 1986) and Virginia's 23.4 percent was the fourth-lowest in school history.

Wisconsin's defense was suffocating and Virginia didn't make any shots. The Cavaliers had field goal droughts of 9:51, 11:07 and the final 9:04 against the Badgers, missed 26 of 28 shots at one point and went 3-for-20 in the second half. That's a robust 15 percent.

Joe Harris destroyed Wisconsin last season, scoring 22 points in the upset at the Kohl Center, and had been on a three game hot streak. Coming into the night hitting 55 percent from the floor, Harris was averaging 16.7 points per game and had gone 16-for-19 overall and 11-for-12 from 3-point range.

With Gasser shadowing and checking him throughout the night, Harris finished with a paltry two points on 1-for-10 shooting. That's incredible against an all-conference performer.

Akil Mitchell was another Badgers destroyer last season with 11 points and 10 rebounds in that matchup. Mitchell, like the rest of Virginia, was a nonfactor. He picked up three fouls in the first 12:26 and sat the rest of the half with only two points. He finished with five points on just six shots.

Oh, and that point in the paint stat, only six of Virginia's final 25 points came from the paint, as Kaminsky and freshman Nigel Hayes presence in the paint shut down driving lanes. Each finished with a pair of blocks.

Overall: B

The team with the No.1 strength of schedule adds another tally to the win column, and the fourth top40 RPI team Wisconsin has beat. The Badgers turned from a group that was out of sorts (three turnovers first six possessions) to a group that was much more composed, finished with five first half turnovers and seven for the game.

Wisconsin committed just five fouls the first half and finished with just 14 fouls for the game, an important factor in a possession-for-possession game.

Bench production wasn't outstanding for Wisconsin, but Duje Dukan, Hayes and Bronson Koenig all provided good minutes for UW, as the group combined for five points, four rebound and no turnovers in 34 minutes. Hayes likely would have played more had he not struggled with three fouls.

Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan has now won 300 games at two different schools. Think about that for a second.

Game MVP: Josh Gasser. Kaminsky deserves some credit for his 9 points, 12 rebounds, two steals, two blocks and one assists, but Gasser's performance was tremendous. Not only did he hit a pair of 3-pointers and 5-of-6 free throws, he limited Joe Harris to two points with aggressive defensive. Do you think UW missed Gasser last season? It's amazing what he's doing on the court this season for UW.


Badger Nation Top Stories