But playing at Duke – for the first time ever for any Badger team – is something much different than playing against lowly ranked opponents such as IPFW and Savannah State. The final score - 82-58 decision to Duke - can attest to that.
"[Duke] was gonna be a test." Badger coach Bo Ryan said of the game for Hughes, "This was the first time leading a team into an environment like this."
The sophomore put up only 12 points, three assists and two steals and had three turnovers. His numbers were lackluster, considering how spectacular he had played coming into Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Said Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski: "Hughes is really good, he's a strong guard."
Hughes has carried a heavy scoring load this year – leading the team in scoring during four of the first five games this year entering the game – with remarkable quickness and incredible ball-handling skills. In fact, getting to paint will never be a problem.
As the team's primary creator in a swing offense, his main responsibility is setting up teammates with quick passes. Knowing this, no one could expect his high scoring production to continue.
"He's been doing handling the ball and getting us into our offense," Ryan said.
What makes Hughes special is the ability to pull off a shot anytime he chooses, but that doesn't mean he should be. On too many occasions against Duke, Hughes had nothing happening and then forced a quick jump shot with plenty of time left on the shot clock.
"He was overdribbling just a little bit," said Ryan. "It affects what our plans were, but in games you've got to be able to figure out another way to get things done."
In the first half particularly, Hughes spent way too much time dribbling and not enough effort creating opportunities for teammates. He shot a horrible 1-for-8 from the field and missed both of his free throw attempts in the first half. What's more, his biggest contribution to the team was getting Wisconsin out of Duke's full-court traps.
The first half disappointment against Duke – only three points and two assists – continues a recent trend for Hughes with. In the previous game against Georgia, he played very poorly in the first half as well.
"(Against Duke) in the second half we moved the ball so much better on our cuts," said Ryan. "Those are things we got away from in the first half."
There were several high moments including dishes to a wide-open Brian Butch and Greg Stiemsma in the lane. Much later in the game, the New Jersey point guard hit some deep shots.
But what makes him special, and what stuck out in this game, was his quickness. On several plays, he exploded past Duke for lightning quick lay-ups to give Wisconsin easy buckets.
Yet, too many times Hughes couldn't find those lanes and forced his shot. Actually, when he was substituted during the early part of the second half, the team went on a run to trim the huge deficit down a little bit.
"We did a pretty good job. He's a tough player to control," said Duke sophomore Jon Scheyer. "Our gameplan was to make it hard for him the whole time and make him work for everything." Defensively, Hughes primarily played against Duke's Greg Paulus, a junior point guard who shows consistency, shoots high percentages and plays suffocating defense. Hughes was primarily the person guarding Paulus, who scored a game-high 18 points.
The second half worked out much better for Hughes as he shot a 3-for-5 from the field and grabbing two steals, One of his best plays was a fantastic steal that lead a to a breakaway sprint that garnered him two free throws. Later, he took what might have been an out-of-place jumper and instead shot a much closer floater to chip away at the Blue Devils' lead.
Hughes took on a lot of responsibility by playing in such a tough environment as a sophomore starting point guard. Considering the environment and lack of experience, it's easy to understand why he forced things against Duke.
"We got away from our principles in the first half and played much better in the second half," said Badger big man Jon Leuer. "It's always a team effort, we all contributed to the game and we lost together. They didn't just beat Trevon, they beat all of us."