Well, someone had to win

first_imgSenior guard Trevon Hughes and the Wisconsin Badgers escaped with a win Wednesday night at the Kohl Center, thanks in large part to the 20-point performance by Hughes. The native of Queens, N.Y., helped UW rally past the Wolverines with 16 second-half points.[/media-credit]When the final horn sounded Wednesday night at the Kohl Center, the scoreboard read 54-48 in favor of the Wisconsin men’s basketball team — and thankfully for the Badgers, that is the only stat that matters.Playing its ugliest game of the season so far, UW finished with several offensive statistics that would make James Naismith blush.Wisconsin shot 34 percent from the floor and a cool 16 percent from beyond the arc. The Badgers didn’t score their first points until six minutes had bled in the game, and they ended the half with a mere 18 points. Calling this matchup a Big Ten slugfest would be putting it kindly.Still, Wisconsin came out with a “W” on the left-hand side of the column due in large part to a resiliency that has marked Bo Ryan’s teams for the past nine years.“I think it just shows a lot about our team,” UW’s only true big man to play, Keaton Nankivil said. “We have a setback with Jon (Leuer’s wrist injury), but we are not the kind of team to make excuses… even when we don’t shoot well, we still do a lot of stuff well that puts us in position to win and that is the way Coach coaches us.”Making up for the dreadful shooting night was Wisconsin’s intelligent play. For the game UW only turned the ball over five times, including just once in the second half. And with the outside shots not falling — or even coming close in the case of two ill-advised attempts from Tim Jarmusz — the Badgers worked their way to the free throw line and connected on 14 of 17 attempts. Those 14 makes were more than Michigan had attempts.“That is how you get it done. When you are shooting a poor percentage you need to be making free throws and you need to not turn the ball over,” Ryan said. “That is the only way you have a chance, when those two things happen.”Wisconsin started the game missing its first seven shots — six of which were three pointers — but managed to stay in the game by only allowing Michigan to score six points.According to Ryan, the six minute stretch to open the game doesn’t bother him because all teams go through scoreless bouts some time during the course of play.“If you are not hitting shots it’s called a slow start,” Ryan said.“In every game there are little spells. We have talked about this a million times. It could have been with five minutes to go in the game… in this case it happened early.”While the Badgers’ scoring was balanced, with three different players reaching double figures and seven guys getting at least one bucket for the game, Michigan’s attack was based almost solely on getting DeShawn Sims and Manny Harris shots.Unfortunately for the Wolverines, only one half of that combo was clicking.Sims finished the game with 23 points on 9-of-14 shooting, but Harris was held to 11 points — eight below his season average — and only reached the charity stripe once.While a lot of credit can be given to Jarmusz for keeping the athletic guard in front of him, Michigan coach Jim Beilein thought some of the trouble was Harris simply missing makeable shots.“[Wisconsin] always has a guy that can do that, but I do think several times Manny got a couple of good looks,” he said. “Tim is a good defender but I’m sure Manny would want to have some of those shots back.”As Badger fans should be used to seeing by now, the ball was in Trevon Hughes’ hands down the stretch, and the senior guard did not disappoint.Finishing the game with 20 points on 7-of-15 shooting, UW’s leading scorer poured in eight points over the final five minutes, including a backbreaking layup with the shot clock about to expire.“I had to get a spark and get something going,” Hughes said. “I had to stay aggressive, I know my teammates feed off of that.”Playing in the third straight game without Leuer, the Badgers attempted 24 three-point attempts to only 28 two-point field goals. In this three-game stretch, nearly 50 percent of UW’s shots have come from beyond the arc, and the team has only averaged 55 points a game.With a hint of stubbornness in his voice, though, Ryan said the team has no plan to change how they are playing — saying in effect, they will continue to take what the defense gives them.“Who knows?” Ryan said about the three-point attempts. “We are just going to keep finding ways. It could be ten the next time, it could be 40 the next time.”last_img

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