Win over Duke makes statement for UW, Big Ten
MADISON, Wis. -- If the Big Ten was going to win the ACC/Big Ten Challenge for the first time in its 11-year existence, you knew it was going to have to get an unexpected win.
Consider it done.
Behind Trevon Hughes' 26 points, the Badgers upset No. 5/6 Duke 73-69 Wednesday night at the Kohl Center, spilling a rowdy student section onto the court and starting a celebration that spread across the entire Big Ten conference.
The significance of the win was lost on no one, including Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski.
"It was a night Wisconsin fans should feel pretty darn proud," he said. "They should feel very proud of their basketball team.
Just minutes after UW's win, Ohio State topped Florida State 77-64, giving the conference its first ever victory in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. The loss was also the first for Duke in the challenge, which was previously 10-0 in challenge games.
For Bo Ryan -- who has never hid his displeasure for how the ACC/Big Ten Challenge games are scheduled -- the win was somewhat of a personal statement.
"Sometimes you have to push a little bit to get a message across," Ryan said in reference to getting one of the ACC's premiere programs at the Kohl Center. "The message was received but we had to finish it on the court. I'm really happy for our team and fans to get a game like that here and finish it."
Wisconsin never trailed in the game and held an 11-point lead when Hughes hit a three with 5:08 left in the game. But that would be UW's last field goal.
Duke went on an 11-2 run when true freshman Andre Dawkins hit three 3-pointers in a row to cut the lead to 67-65.
But Wisconsin nailed seven of its last nine free throws and milked the clock long enough to secure the win.
"Fortunately we were able to shorten the game because [Duke] found their shooting touch," Ryan said.
The biggest example of Wisconsin shortening the game was on the possession that led to UW's final field goal with 5:08 left. The Badgers grabbed three offensive rebounds before Hughes finally knocked down a three. The possession lasted for a minute and four seconds.
"How much clock did we use on that possession? That was a lot of clock and it probably won the game," Ryan said.
The sequence of events came in the middle of a nearly five minute stretch in which Duke did not score.
Kyle Singler was the star for Duke with 28 points, but Hughes nearly matched him with 26 of his own. He shot 9-of-16 overall, including 4-of-7 from behind the arc. After the game, Krzyzewski had nothing but good things to say about Hughes.
"He's a damn good player," Krzyzewski said. "In the last two years he has gone from a good player to a great player."
Coach K added that it was an honor to bring his team to the Kohl Center.
For the Badgers, it was an honor to beat them.