CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — On the eve of its ACC/Big Ten Challenge matchup with Virginia, the University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team knocked down shot after shot during practice at John Paul Jones Arena.

“I think we had 48 points in 30 possessions,” Badgers coach Greg Gard said.

It was a much different story one night later, when UW actually had to contend with a defense that is annually one of the best in the nation.

The result was a 49-37 loss to No. 18 Virginia, which got 17 points from sophomore guard Kyle Guy and 16 from fifth-year senior guard Devon Hall to remain unbeaten Monday night.

Junior center Ethan Happ finished with a team-high 14 points for UW, which fell to 0-4 this season against ranked opponents.

It wasn’t a matter of if the Badgers (3-4) were going to struggle to score against Virginia, which entered the night leading the nation in the adjusted defensive efficiency metric.

Rather, the question was how difficult it would be for UW to put the ball in the basket.

The answer: very difficult.

UW shot 31.3 percent overall and went 3 of 20 from 3-point range. The Badgers averaged a mere 0.65 points per possession, including 0.57 after halftime.

“I thought we had some looks early that we needed to have go down,” Gard said. “That’s able to change the scheme a little bit defensively. It makes them guard the whole floor instead of just the half they commit to.”

The young Badgers can take solace in the fact they weren’t the first UW team to struggle in this building. Four years ago, the Badgers grinded out a 48-38 victory despite shooting 28.8 percent from the field. That Frank Kaminsky-led outfit ended up being one of the most potent offenses in the country and made it to the Final Four.

Of course, those Badgers held the Cavaliers to 23.4 percent shooting in their previous meeting. This time, Virginia’s defense was the winner.

“They’re known for their defense,” Happ said. “That’s the identity that Wisconsin’s been known for, but we’ve got to do a better job. This young team doesn’t have that identity yet. We play pretty well on defense, but that’s got to be an every-play type of thing.

“That’s including myself. When I say young team, I’m definitely including myself in that. There are times where I should have rotated. It’s not just the young guys, it’s everyone.”

Virginia shot 38.3 percent from the field and won despite not attempting a single free throw.

But Guy and Hall got in the paint too often and helped the Cavaliers (7-0) outscore the Badgers 34-18 in that area.

Virginia also grabbed 14 offensive rebounds. Even though it converted that haul into only six second-chance points, the longer possessions took a toll on the Badgers.

“It’s just demoralizing to a team and that’s why we go after them and try to get offensive rebounds,” Happ said. “It just ate up more clock and gave us less time to come back.”

Happ had a few spurts where he was able to get to the rim and get good looks. But Virginia’s Jack Salt, a 6-foot-10 junior center, was physical with Happ and got plenty of help from teammates.

While Happ and the Badgers have been able to use those double teams to their advantage for the most part this season, they haven’t gone up against a team as good in help defense and rotating as the Cavaliers.

“I thought it was terrific,” Virginia coach Tony Bennett, a former UW assistant, said of the job his team did against Happ. “I have so much respect for him as a player, watching him on film and the things he does. … You’ve just got to make him earn everything.”

UW was within 30-26 early in the second half after a basket by Happ, his third in a span of four possessions.

But the Badgers went the next 7 minutes, 27 seconds without scoring. The drought lasted 11 possessions, with UW missing eight consecutive shots and committing four turnovers during the span.

Freshman guard Brad Davison ended it with a 3-pointer from the left corner and scored on a drive three possessions later to trim Virginia’s lead to 42-31.

But after Happ made two free throws with 4:50 remaining to cut UW’s deficit to single digits, the Badgers managed just two points in their next eight possessions.

“We missed some wide-open layups and some easy points that we should have had tonight,” said UW sophomore guard D’Mitrik Trice, who finished with 10 points. “At the end of the day, we just didn’t knock down the open shot.”

Virginia’s offense was in the midst of a drought of its own until Guy drove the lane and kicked it out to Hall for a key 3-pointer from the right wing. That shot gave the Cavaliers a 45-33 with 3:37 remaining.

When the Badgers weren’t missing shots in the second half, they were turning the ball over. They ended up with 10 turnovers in 30 possessions after halftime.

“Knowing it’s going to be a lower-possession game,” Gard said, “you’ve got to make sure you maximize your opportunities and can’t have that many turnovers.”

The news got worse in the second half for UW when Davison re-injured his left shoulder after getting fouled on a drive to the basket. He was cleared to return by the UW medical staff and came back in the game briefly, but it was clear he wasn’t himself and Gard pulled him for the final 2:38.

It was a tough night in general for UW’s three true freshmen. Davison, wing Kobe King and forward Nate Reuvers were a combined 3 of 17 from the field.

“It’s a great learning experience,” Gard said. “You can tell and teach and look at film all you want. But for them to live through it will help them grow a little bit faster.”


min fg-a ft-a rb pf a to pts

Ford 28 2-5 0-0 4 2 0 4 6

Happ 31 6-10 2-2 8 2 0 2 14

Trice 34 4-12 2-2 1 1 2 2 10

Iverson 11 0-0 0-2 1 0 1 2 0

Davison 33 2-10 0-1 2 1 1 0 5

Pritzl 22 0-3 0-0 4 0 1 0 0

Thomas 5 0-1 0-0 5 1 0 1 0

King 21 1-3 0-0 0 3 1 0 2

Reuvers 15 0-4 0-0 3 0 0 3 0

Totals 200 15-48 4-7 30 10 6 14 37


min fg-a ft-a rb pf a to pts

Wilkins 24 1-3 0-0 10 3 1 1 2

Salt 30 2-2 0-0 8 4 0 1 4

Hall 20 7-10 0-0 1 3 2 1 16

Guy 34 8-17 0-0 2 1 2 2 17

Jerome 30 2-11 0-0 5 2 1 3 4

Hunter 18 1-6 0-0 2 0 1 0 2

Johnson 20 0-6 0-0 3 0 0 0 0

Diakite 24 2-5 0-0 5 1 0 4 4

Totals 200 23-60 0-0 39 14 7 12 49

Team totals include rebounds and turnovers

Wisconsin 20 17 — 37 Virginia 24 25 — 49

3-pointers — W 3-20 (Ford 2-5, Davison 1-5, Thomas 0-1, King 0-1, Reuvers 0-1, Pritzl 0-2, Trice 0-5), V 3-14 (Hall 2-3, Guy 1-6, Johnson 0-1, Jerome 0-4). Steals — W 5 (Davison 2, Happ 1, King 1, Reuvers 1), V 6 (Johnson 2, Wilkins 1, Salt 1, Jerome 1, Hunter 1). Blocks — W 1 (Iverson), V 2 (Salt, Diakite 1). Field goal percentage — W .313, V .383. Free throw percentage — W .571, V .000. Att. — 13,911.