EVANSTON, Ill. -- Sometimes you just have to keep shooting.
That was the message Trevon Hughes received from his teammates with just under eight minutes left in Wednesday night's game at Northwestern. Despite telling himself to stop shooting, Hughes listened to his teammates and the result was a key 60-50 Big Ten road win for Wisconsin in front of 6,566 fans at Welsh-Ryan Arena.
After missing his first nine field goal attempts, Hughes made five of his final six attempts -- including four threes -- as he scored 15 points in the final 6:55 of the game to help turn a three-point deficit into a 10-point win for the Badgers.
"My teammates kept telling me to keep shooting," Hughes said after the game. "If it wasn't for them I don't think I would have taken another shot."
He didn't really have a choice to shoot when he finally made his first field goal attempt. Down 42-39 with just under seven minutes to go, the shot clock was winding down and Hughes had to jack up a three from the top of the key. He made it, but he said he still didn't have his confidence back yet. After hitting a layup a minute later to give UW a one-point lead, NU's Drew Crawford grabbed it back for the Wildcats with a three.
That's when Hughes took over the game. He missed a three on the next possession, but Jordan Taylor grabbed the rebound and gave it right back to his teammate who was only 2-of-11 from the field at the time. Just four seconds after missing a three, Hughes drained one to give Wisconsin a lead it would never surrender.
"That's the one that gave me my confidence," Hughes said as he hit two more threes in the next two minutes. "Once the first shot goes in you feel like the next one will go in and then the next one and the next one."
The senior guard finished the game with 16 points and pulled down seven rebounds, which also went a long way towards Wisconsin's second win at Northwestern in its last three tries.
The Badgers pulled down 11 of the final 12 rebounds in the game and the only one NU grabbed in that stretch was with two seconds left on the clock. SIx of those 11 rebounds were offensive. Overall, the Badgers grabbed 15 offensive boards and outrebounded the Wildcats 38-29.
"That was the key [in the game]," head coach Bo Ryan said. "I was hoping no one would notice so we could like, use that as a weapon."
Without Jon Leuer in the lineup, other players had to step up in all areas and Wisconsin's three starting guards picked up their scoring and rebounding. While Hughes led the team in rebounds, Taylor and Jason Bohannon both grabbed five boards themselves. Bohannon also scored a game-high 19 points, picking up the slack for both Leuer and Hughes.
"Our senior guards made the difference. That maturity was huge," Ryan said after playing Bohannon and Hughes for all 40 minutes.
The head coach was obviously looking to use experience as a weapon in this game. He started sophomore Jordan Taylor, who is his most experience underclassmen, and played all five of his starters for at least 32 minutes.
Taylor rewarded his coach with 10 points, seven assists and no turnovers.
"Anytime you can get a guard like Jordan Taylor to come in here with seven assists and no turnovers," Ryan said. "The reason why we lost here a few times is because we threw the ball around all over the gym and I thought he did a great job of relieving the pressure off of Trevon and running the show himself when he was available."
There's no question Taylor's ball security and Bohannon's scoring kept the Badgers in the game, but the reality is that Wisconsin still needed its leading scorer to step up and win the game. The Badgers were still losing by three when Hughes hit his first shot and that's exactly why Ryan never took Hughes out of the game.
"You can't take Trevon Hughes and not have him on the floor in a tight game in a hostile environment against a system like [Bill Carmody] runs because he has experience with it," Ryan said.
When asked if he had ever seen a player turn around his performance so quickly in one game, Ryan had an easy answer: "You're looking at him. I was always going to make the next one."