It was far from one of Wisconsin's (2-0) best-played games, but the men's basketball team did enough to get past Oakland (0-2) 58-42 Wednesday night.
Senior guard Trevon Hughes propelled Wisconsin through a rough first half and led the Badgers to the win with 15 points, seven rebounds and four assists. He did most of his damage in the first half, electrifying the Kohl Center with his crossover and impressing Oakland head coach Greg Kampe.
""I thought that Trevon Hughes, late in the first half, really dictated the tempo of the game,"" Kampe said. ""[He] made some great plays and was able to open the score up so we didn't have a chance.""
About halfway through the first half, Hughes started aggressively attacking the basket, forcing the Grizzlies to commit, which opened up his teammates. He hit junior forward Tim Jarmusz for an easy lay-up, then senior guard Jason Bohannon for another.
""Our offense felt pressured. People like to pressure us on the wings, especially the guards,"" Hughes said. ""I think I'm quick enough to drive by anybody, so that's the spark we needed.""
Hughes' ability to take over and lead the team through sloppy starts is becoming a common niche for the senior guard, and his teammates have taken notice.
""He makes us go,"" junior forward Jon Leuer said. ""When he's driving and creating it just frees up everybody. It frees up [Bohannon] for shots; we can play off him. I can't say enough about how impressed I am with him as a leader.""
The Badgers fell behind early because some hot shooting from the Golden Grizzlies. Oakland stormed out to a quick lead, taking advantage of some Wisconsin turnovers and the play of junior center Keith Benson. But Benson and the Grizzlies got into some early foul trouble, opening the door for the Badgers.
Benson's departure allowed the Badgers' big men to step up and take control of the paint. Leuer and junior forward Keaton Nankivil took advantage and, as a duo, dominated inside. Nankivil broke out with 13 points, nine rebounds and four blocks, while Leuer added 12 points, three rebounds and three steals.
For the second consecutive game, the Badgers' defense held its opponent under 50 points. The Grizzlies struggled all night from the field, shooting only 27.3 percent, and only 15.8 percent from behind the arc. Kempe called his team an efficient 3-point shooting squad, but it could not find the stroke in the Kohl Center.
Luckily for Oakland, the Badgers could not buy a 3 either. Wisconsin shot 3-for-14 from 3-point range even though it had plenty of open shots.
Head coach Bo Ryan attributed the poor shooting to the team still trying to find a rhythm.
""Hopefully we're going to have some nights where somebody's going to have to pay for us having the open looks we had,"" Ryan said. ""We had some great looks tonight, and I think we can knock those down in the future.""
The win gave Ryan his 60th nonconference victory and marked the eighth season the Badgers started off 2-0.
""We still have a lot of things to figure out,"" Leuer said. ""We're still learning how to play off each other, but I like what I'm seeing so far with the progress we've made. We're just looking forward to going to Maui now and being competitive there.""