The No. 4 Virginia Cavaliers handled a tough test from the No. 25 Wisconsin Badgers and emerged with a 53-46 victory to win the Battle 4 Atlantis championship game. This is the sixth straight early-season tournament victory for the Cavaliers under Tony Bennett.
De’Andre Hunter had an outstanding game for the Hoos with 20 points and nine rebounds, and Ty Jerome added 11 points. Jack Salt had just two points and was credited with five rebounds, but added a block and a steal to go alongside several tip out rebounds and broken up passes. Salt was back in the starting lineup for this game, as was first year guard Kihei Clark. Clark had a solid game with five points, five rebounds, three steals, two assists, and no turnovers.
Wisconsin’s Ethan Happ was phenomenal with 22 points and 15 rebounds. Khalil Iverson was next for the Badgers with seven points, and two UW players had five. The Badgers shot 44% in the game, but turned it over 13 times as Virginia’s defense was active all day.
Virginia shot 37% from the field and 24% for the game, but the Virginia offense only scored 20 points in the second half. It wasn’t the prettiest game for the Cavaliers, but they got the job done against a very tough and good Wisconsin team. The Hoos won three games in three days and got production from a variety of players. There are things to work on, but things to be happy with out of this performance.
Salt opened the scoring for Virginia after rebounding his own miss and finishing with a left handed hook shot. The two squads traded buckets (or two free throws if you’re Hunter) back and forth as Wisconsin tied things up at four-all on a layup by Nate Reuvers.
Virginia used stifling defense and crisp offense to go on a 9-0 run, sparked by a three pointer by Kyle Guy. Hunter shook Happ on the outside with a fake, and then drove the lane for an easy layup to extend Virginia’s lead to five. A steal from Jerome and his ensuing transition bucket put the Hoos up 11-4 with 14:20 left in the first half. After an oustanding defensive stand that ended with a three off the front iron, Jerome hit a long two off of a screen to push the lead to nine.
Happ got his first bucket of the game with 13:08 left, ending a 3:56 scoring drought for the Badgers. Clark missed a jumper, but Hunter collected the miss and put in for an easy layup and the 15-6 lead. The Virginia offense cooled off a little, and D’Mitrik Trice and Happ got back-to-back buckets to close within five points. Trice got his second bucket of the game, but Guy slipped a nice pass to Diakite for a dunk that ended a 6-0 Wisconsin run and 4+ minute Virginia scoring drought.
Another outstanding defensive stand by Salt led to a missed shot from Happ, and Hunter called his own number on the other end to make it 19-12. Happ had to get fancy on his next shot, going up-and-under Salt’s arm to complete the difficult bucket. Hunter took a step inside the three-point line and buried the long two to push Virginia’s advantage back to seven. Wisconsin kept the pressure on with a carbon copy of Happ’s previous bucket, this time against Diakite after Salt went to the bench with his second foul.
Guy gave Virginia a little breathing room with a three from the corner to make it 24-16 after some stellar ball movement from Hunter and Jerome. Virginia stood tall on defense, forcing a bad shot from Nate Reuvers. Diakite corralled the rebound, and Jerome buried a three on the other end to give Virginia the nine point lead. Another great defensive play by Diakite led to a turnover by Wisconsin, and Jerome found Hunter who waited out the post traffic for an easy bucket off the glass.
Clark hit two free throws to cap off a 10-0 run by the Hoos, and Happ finished over Diakite’s outstretched arms for the bucket. Hunter missed a shot down the other end with 34 seconds left, but Jerome rebounded a missed three from Brad Davison to give the Hoos one last possession before the half. To cap off a beautiful first half, Jerome drove the left side lane and pulled up for a floater to put the Cavaliers up 33-18 at the break.
Hunter led the Hoos with 12 first half points and four turnovers, followed by Jerome with nine points, three assists, no turnovers, and one steal. As a team, Virginia shot 13-for-27 (43%) in the first half, and had more assists (7) than turnovers (3) or fouls (4). The Hoos never trailed in the first 20 minutes, and held the Badgers to 36% shooting from the field and 0-for-5 from three. Happ led Wisconsin with 10 points on 5-for-10 shooting.
Happ opened the scoring in the second half on a difficult pass into the post from Reuvers. Davison hit Wisconsin’s first three of the game on the next possession after the Hoos couldn’t convert, making it a 10 point game in a hurry. Clark knocked the lid off the basket with a three from the top of the arc, putting Virginia back in front by 13. Khalil Iverson rebounded a Trice miss on a three pointer and deposited the ball for an easy score.
Another Happ bucket pulled Wisconsin within single digits at nine, and Guy couldn’t hit a wide-open three. Salt tipped the ball away from Happ, allowing Jerome to corral the loose ball and give the Hoos another possession. Guy missed on a jumper from the free throw line, and—stop me if you’ve heard this before—Happ connected once again from the post despite good defensive pressure.
Diakite made both free throws after being fouled in the lane by Reuvers to push the Virginia advantage back to nine with 14 minutes remaining in the game. Kobe King got on the board with a rim spinning long two that fell through to make it 38-31. The Hoos made it 40-31 after Diakite hit pay dirt as the shot clock expired on a smooth baseline jumper after Virginia opened the half going 1-for-12 from the field.
A double-team in the post on Happ led to a kick out for a three from King to make it a six point game with 10:31 remaining. Trice made one of two free throws, but another missed three from Jerome led to an empty possession from the Hoos. Salt stood tall against Happ to keep the Hoos’ advantage to five points at 40-35 with 9:18 to play. Guy got a baseline floater to go, giving Virginia a little cushion against the Badgers.
Hunter made one of two from the line, and the Hoos forced a turnover on the other end of the court. A layup from Hunter put Virginia up by 10 points, but an old-fashioned three point play from Iverson closed the gap back to seven with 5:32 to play. Active hands by Clark stripped the ball from Trice and sent it careening off Wisconsin to give possession back to Virginia. Hunter finished through traffic on one end, and Happ returned the favor on the other to keep it at seven.
Virginia’s first turnover of the second half led to an extremely difficult make by Davison to make it 47-42. Jerome, who had a frustrating afternoon shooting, gave himself a high percentage look with a finish at the rim. King missed a three pointer at the shot clock buzzer, and Clark climbed a ladder to grab his fifth rebound of the game.
Happ made it a five point game with his 10th bucket of the game. Wisconsin put on the press, turning over Guy briefly before he re-stole the ball back. Guy found Hunter, who easily finished at the rim to make it 51-44 with 1:15 left in the game. Once again, Wisconsin got a quick bucket from Happ to keep the pressure on Virginia. Jerome burned the clock down to four seconds on the shot clock and couldn’t get the bucket to go, but Salt tipped the ball out to Guy who retained possession. Guy was fouled and made one of two at the line to make it 52-46.