FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) — Steven Crowl had 15 points and 10 rebounds to lead Wisconsin to a 65-41 win over No. 24 Virginia in the Fort Myers Tip-Off on Monday night.
The Badgers (3-2) controlled the boards with a 48-21 rebounding edge and had 30 points inside against Virginia’s vaunted defense.
Reece Beekman had 17 points to lead the Cavaliers (4-1).
“I felt they ran their offense pretty well,” Beekman said. “They took their time, were patient and made plays. They kind of wore us down.”
Playing at the Suncoast Arena with a crowd that was seemingly backing the Badgers, Wisconsin hit its first two shots, then went on a 13-3 run for an early 18-7 lead.
“Going in, we expected a big team and a big crowd for Wisconsin,” Virginia coach Tony Bennett said. “Still, it’s humbling. But we’re in the long game. How can we get better?”
The Badgers led 28-18 at the halftime despite point guard Chuckie Hepburn and forward Tyler Wahl going a combined 0 of 12 from the field.
“Obviously, I’m extremely happy for our players,” Wisconsin coach Greg Gard said. “We have tremendous respect for what Tony has done.
“I thought Providence and Tennessee prepared us to prepare better for tonight. We started to come together and play to what our vision has been.”
Down 12 in the second half, Virginia cut the deficit to 40-35 on a three-point play by Beekman.
Wisconsin responded with an 11-0 run to take a 51-35 lead. A tip dunk by reserve Carter Gilmore highlighted the run for the Badgers.
“I think for us, the thing was to be more physical,” Crowl said. “The coaches did a great job with us on that. We showed that tonight. “This is the first step.”
Virginia (4-1) moved into The Associated Press Top 25 on Monday, but will likely drop out after getting routed.
For Wisconsin, this continued a brutal start to its November and December schedule. The Badgers have already played No. 7 Tennessee and will face No. 4 Marquette on Dec. 2, No. 18 Michigan State on Dec. 5 and No. 3 Arizona on Dec. 9.
This is the fifth meeting between the Badgers and Cavaliers since 2012. Virginia has won three of the games. In every game except Monday, the winner hasn’t scored any more than 60 points. The loser didn’t hit 40 points in two of the meetings.
When Kirk Penney — a member of Wisconsin’s 2000 Final Four team — returned to the school as a special assistant to Gard, nobody was happier than Bennett. “He’s like a little brother to me,” Bennett said. “When my wife and I were over in New Zealand, they told about this young kid who’s really good. They brought him to practice and we played 1 on 1. He basically played with a pro team. I thought, ‘This kid might be good enough.’”
Wisconsin: Will play SMU Wednesday night.
Virginia: Will play the West Virginia Mountaineers.