Hughes sparks comeback victory
JEFF SCHORFHEIDE/Herald photoTrailing by 11 points with eight minutes to play in thefirst half against an opponent not expected to present much of a challenge, theUW men’s basketball team did not panic Sunday. Instead, Wisconsin shored up itsdefense, settled into its offense and went on a 22-5 run to close the half enroute to an 83-55 victory over Indiana Purdue-Fort Wayne in the team’s regularseason opener.IPFW freshman guard Ben Botts hit three 3-pointers midwaythrough the first half to help the Mastodons extend their early lead to 27-16as UW was unable to offer much defensively from the onset of the contest, butthe Badgers weren’t about to let a shaky start doom their season opener.”Every team has their times when they get down by 11points,” junior Marcus Landry said after the game. “I knew we had it in us towin the game.”Behind the play of sophomore guard Trevon Hughes, who scored13 of his career-high 25 points during the run at the end of the half, the Badgersquickly diagnosed the team’s problems and made an adjustment.”They were pushing the ball harder than we were,” Hughessaid. “We just had to pick up our intensity.”In addition to Hughes, senior guard Michael Flowers alsohelped to key the Wisconsin defense as it got back on track, allowing the teamto win handily against the nonconference foe.”We went on that run there, and when I saw some of thethings [Flowers] was doing, that was the difference,” head coach Bo Ryan said.”Then everybody else picked it up.”By the time the second half rolled around, the Badgers hadall but shut down the Mastodons’ ability to hit the long ball — IPFW shot 41.7percent from behind the arc in the first half but only 15.4 percent in thesecond–and looked more like the squad that the announced crowd of 17,190 hadanticipated seeing.”They were hitting a lot of 3s. You live by the 3; you dieby the 3,” Landry said of IPFW’s offense and how UW responded. “We picked upour defense.”According to Landry, it was the defense of Flowers that wasable to lock up the Mastodon shooters after they had got off to their hotstart.”Mike is a very good defensive player,” Landry said. “Justhaving his presence in the game … it always helps the team. He’s the type of guythat can get shooters out of their comfort zone.”Flowers, recognized as a member of the Big Ten’sall-defensive team last year, did not start the game Sunday. Though he startedall 36 of Wisconsin’s game last season, Flowers also came off the bench in bothof the preseason exhibition games leading up to the opener. The senior ended upplaying 30 minutes, second most on the team, while finishing with five points,four assists and four rebounds.”Nobody put him there. It’s just the way things have playedout,” Ryan said of Flowers’ position on the bench to start the game. “Just takea look at the minutes. I think it all speaks for itself.”The guard play of Flowers and Hughes didn’t end up being theonly deciding factor of the game, however — at least not in the eyes of IPFWcoach Dane Fife.”I think ultimately it came down to their size andstrength,” Fife said.The Badgers, with their myriad of big men, were able to relyon their size to get by a Mastodon roster that didn’t give much playing time toanyone over 6-foot-8. Wisconsin finished with a 43-31 edge in rebounds, and theteam finished with five blocked shots in comparison to IPFW’s two.”Ultimately, we just couldn’t keep them off the glass,” Fifesaid. “It was happening time and time again, and we have to either grow somemore or jump higher because rebounds just crushed us.”Senior forward Brian Butch led the way on the boards,finishing with 24 points and 13 rebounds while juniors Greg Stiemsma and Landryalso chipped in seven and six boards, respectively.Aftera solid showing in its opener, Wisconsin will now get a chance to rest before atiring set of games next weekend. Starting Friday the Badgers will hostSavannah State, Florida A&M and Colorado in consecutive days as part of theAmerica’s Youth Classic tournament.