Hughes was letting out all the frustration built up during the beginning of the season opener versus Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, as Wisconsin was down by as many as 11 points.
"My shot wasn't falling and my team was looking a little shaky at the start of the game," Hughes said. "We needed some momentum and I think by me showing my leadership by example helped my team come out with this victory."
Hughes' lay-up before the half capped off a 6-0 Badgers' run to close out the first half and head into the locker room with a 38-32 lead and cruise in the second half to an 83-55 win over the Mastodons.
Hughes finished with a game-high 25 points and added six steals, five assists and five rebounds.
But the 28-point victory wasn't telling of the hole the Badgers were in during the first half.
Wisconsin came out sluggish offensively, and Hughes' play at the point guard position was probably the reason why. The sophomore guard — making his first career start — was sporadic with the ball and struggled to knock down a shot.
Through the first 12 minutes of the game, Hughes was 0-for-3 from the field — and IPFW took advantage.
The Mastodons were able to move the ball and get some easy buckets with a balanced scoring attack, but when Jaruan Burrows converted a lay-up to give IPFW an 11-point lead, UW head coach Bo Ryan couldn't wait for the media timeout and felt he had to call one himself.
"I didn't know what else to do but call a timeout," Ryan said. "I couldn't take the team in the locker room."
After the timeout, Wisconsin stormed back, sparked by the aggressive defense of senior guard Michael Flowers.
Flowers had three steals in the game, but it was his assertive play that lit a fire underneath his teammates.
"As hard as he works, I work just as hard," Hughes said. "He motivated me and the team as well."
With Flowers pushing him, Hughes picked his game up and helped put the Badgers back in the game.
IPFW head coach Dane Fife said Hughes' play got the Badgers rolling, but it was their size that put the game away.
"I'm not taking anything away from Wisconsin, but I felt like ultimately it came down to their size and strength, and that led to our demise," Fife said.
Butch provided much of the size and strength with 24 points and 13 rebounds.
"When it gets tough, you have to go to where you know you can score," Butch said. "And it's easier to score closer to the basket than far away from the basket. We were down and we all realized we needed to get some post touches and get a run together."
Notes: Junior forward Kevin Gullikson made his return to the line-up after missing the two exhibition games with an ankle injury. He played four minutes.
Freshman Tim Jarmusz did not play, leaving the opportunity open for him to take a redshirt this season.
"We've talked about it a little bit," Ryan said. "But no decision has been made."