Hughes finds range just in time for UW
Hughes missed his five 3-point attempts during a ragged offensive night but in the final seven minutes he hit 4 of 5 and led the Badgers to a 60-50 victory over Northwestern.
“If it weren’t for them, I don’t think I’d taken another shot” Hughes said.
“It felt great leaving my fingers the whole time. Every time I shot the ball it felt good. The release was good. It just wasn’t falling. Keep shooting. That’s what my teammates kept telling me and the next thing you know, I made like two or three in a row.”
And his late game surge, along with some ferocious offensive rebounding by the Badgers—15 for the game—ended Northwestern’s upset bid.
“I was happy for our guys we finally found what it looked like to move the net,” Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said. “It didn’t look like it was moving much.”
Whether it was good defense or poor offense, both teams had a long drought of nearly eight minutes without a field goal during the second half. Wisconsin shot 28.6 percent in the second half and Northwestern 33 percent.
“I thought it was a winnable game. Hughes came through,” Northwestern coach Bill Carmody said. “He missed a shot, then lined up another one, misses and then knocks it down.”
Hughes finished with 16 points, 15 in the second half, while shooting 5 for 15. As a team, the Badgers were only 7 for 26 on 3-pointers.
Jason Bohannon led Wisconsin (14-3, 4-1 Big Ten) with 19 points, 10 in the first half.
“Our senior guards made the difference,” Ryan said, noting how physical the game was. “We won the skirmish tonight.”
John Shurna had 15 points and Jeremy Nash 13 for Northwestern (12-4, 1-3).
“It’s frustrating,” Shurna said. “The last five minutes they started crashing the boards. … In crunch time we have to step up instead of hanging with them.”
Without injured forward Jon Leuer, the Badgers started a three-guard offense with sophomore Jordan Taylor making his first start. Taylor scored a career-high 23 points in Wisconsin’s victory over Purdue last Saturday. He had 10 points, no turnovers and seven assists against Northwestern.
The 6-foot-10 Leuer, the Badgers’ second-leading scorer (15.4 ppg) and leading rebounder (6.2), broke his left wrist in a fall during the win over the Boilermakers.
“This was a big one for us, without Jon, without one of our key players, to get this one under our belt,” Hughes said. “Especially on the road.”
Hughes’ first 3-pointer, ending the nearly an eight-minute field goal drought for the Badgers, tied the game at 42 with 6:52 to go.
Luka Mirkovic’s free throw put the Wildcats up by one but two more by Keaton Nankivil after an offensive rebound gave the Badgers the lead right back.
Shurna got the Wildcats’ first basket since the 14:37 mark by driving for a score with 6:13 to go. Drew Crawford’s 3-pointer gave the Wildcats a 48-46 lead. But Hughes’ 3-pointer put the Badgers back up 49-48 and they never trailed again. After Jordan chased down an offensive rebound, Hughes hit another 3-pointer, giving Wisconsin a 52-48 lead.
with just under four minutes to go.
When the Wildcats missed a free throw—they were only 9 for 16 for the game—Hughes again connected from beyond the 3-point line.
The slow-moving first half featured more timeouts than fast breaks and ended up tied at 27. Bohannon had 10 points on 5 of 7 shooting for Wisconsin and Nash scored nine for the Wildcats.
Last updated: 2:06 pm Thursday, December 20, 2012