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Badgers take Hughes' good with bad

There were moments of extreme elation during last night's 65-61 win over Arizona in the Maui Invitational Tournament.  And then there were moments of head-banging frustration.  Trevon Hughes was fully responsible for both sets of emotions.

In Hughes' senior year, we are still saying many of the same things we said about him as a freshman.  His potential seems limitless.  He is a dynamic play-maker and a quick defender.  He can take over a game at times.  But, he tends to lose control too easily.  He doesn't always distribute the ball well.  He sometimes tries to do too much, which often leads to turnovers.

Hughes may very well be the most maddening player in college basketball.  No one makes more breathtaking plays, only to follow them up with such boneheaded mistakes. 

His performance against Arizona was classic in that regard.  Hughes took plenty of bad shots, hitting only 7-of-19 from the floor and 2-of-6 from three-point land.  He missed critical free throws early, starting just 2-of-6 in that department and finishing 8-of-14.  He turned the ball over three times, to go along with just three assists.

But without Hughes' big plays down the stretch, there is no way Wisconsin would have held on to win.  Whether he was converting driving layups, contested three-pointers or late free throws, Hughes came through when it mattered most.  He finished with 24 points, double what the Badgers' second-leading scorer recorded.  And, through all of his bipolarity on offense, Hughes never let a bad possession adversely affect his play on defense.  He posted five steals, none of which were bigger than his strip of Derrick Williams at the end of regulation to seal the victory.

Not only did Hughes dominate after halftime, he did it while receiving plenty of attention from a Wildcats defense that could essentially forget about guarding the post.  Jon Leuer and Keaton Nankivil were both on the bench for most of the second half with four fouls apiece, forcing Bo Ryan to go with a smaller lineup.  That put the onus on Hughes to create opportunities for himself, and he did.

There is no question Hughes has enormous confidence in his athletic ability and speed.  He genuinely believes he is quick enough to take anyone to the hole, and we have seen that get the better of him.  But sometimes it will win the Badgers a game, and it did against Arizona.  With the rest of Wisconsin's offense combining to go 15-of-42 from the field and 2-of-12 from beyond the arc, Hughes needed to put the team on his back and take some chances. 

The end result was a win, however ugly.

-Jake Harris