Now look at Saturday's 65-63 victory over Michigan State in the Big Ten tournament semifinals:
Hughes started this game, but suffered a left ankle injury with 12:38 remaining and did not return.
"Any time you lose a player of that caliber, you realize you've got to tighten things up that much more," UW senior center Brian Butch said.
The Badgers were losing by eight to ten points for most of the second half, and were down 53-41 with 7:53 to go. True, Conseco Fieldhouse is considered a neutral site, but Michigan State definitively had the larger and noisier fan contingent.
And once again, it was Flowers, the defensive specialist who would be considered the third or fourth option in UW's offense, who came up with the clutch shot that won the game for Wisconsin.
Flowers swiped a bad Michigan State pass and ran the length of the court for a streaking layup, giving UW a 65-63 lead they wouldn't surrender with 27 seconds to go.
"Any time you come back with such a large deficit, it gives you confidence, especially if you do it (against) a great team," Flowers said. "Texas was a great team, it was really tough to do it on the road. And to come back against Michigan State in a neutral site, it gives your team confidence."
Sticking to It
If Bo Ryan were making a coaching DVD, one of the first topics he would address would be touching the post on every possession. Although Wisconsin was not finding the success in the post they were hoping for early on, scoring only eight points in the first 20 minutes, the Badgers were getting fouled by the Spartan front court and converting on their opportunities.
"Our focus was to really pound it on the inside and get good shots. Shots weren't falling, but we were getting the ball in there and drawing fouls," junior Marcus Landry said. "It worked out in our favor that we did get a lot of those guys in foul trouble."
Those Spartan fouls became important when Wisconsin started to make its second-half push. With Ibok, Naymick, Morgan and Suton all fouling out in a three-minute stretch, Wisconsin cashed in from the free throw line and from the paint, finishing the game with 24 points in the paint and connecting on 26-of-37 free throws.
"They got a little discourage early because of the contact but we've taken contact from Purdue and other teams that had tried to be physical with us," Ryan said. "(Making the free throws) is just stepping up there and answering the bell."
Butch, Hibbert Birds of a Feather?
When Butch had an awful offensive output Friday against Michigan – scoring just one point on a free throw and missing all seven shots – he wasn't the only talented big man to struggle. Georgetown's star player, 7-foot-2 Roy Hibbert, did not score in the Hoyas' 82-63 drubbing of Villanova on Thursday in the Big East quarterfinals in New York City.
Butch, who hit 6 of 10 shots and led the Badgers with 19 points Saturday, laughed when he was told about his head coach's comparison between him and the Hoya star.
"It was funny because me and Keaton (Nankivil, UW freshman center and Butch's roommate) said, ‘if Hibbert pulls an oh-fer, I was pretty close to it'," Butch said. "You know something's got to turn. Both of us are too good of basketball players not to have something turn and go our way."
For the record, Hibbert also had a better semifinal, scoring 25 points and grabbing 13 rebounds to lead Georgetown over West Virginia 72-55.
Ironically, it's the No. 9-ranked Hoyas who are fighting with the Badgers (sixth-ranked in the coaches' poll and eighth in the AP poll) for a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament.
No Explanation Yet Again
For the second consecutive game, Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan has not endured to the compassion of the referees. Yesterday, Ryan received his second technical of the season after he stomped his foot in disgust at Butch for failing to miss a layup.
Against Michigan State, Ryan said something incorrect to referee JD Collins and received a technical early in the second half. Much like the day before, Ryan never received an explanation as to why.
"No idea," he said when asked the reasoning for the technical. "Later on yesterday, they found out that I was reacting to a player. But on this one, I have no idea. I never think about (getting a technical). Some people do it on purpose or whatever, I don't. That's not what I do."
Michigan State's Drew Neitzel made the ensuing two shots to increase the then-MSU lead to 37-29 with 15:46 left.
"There are coaches that do a heck of a lot more on the sideline than I do," Ryan said. "It's unbelievable. I am just saying, all's coaches want is consistency in the country."
Benjamin Worgull contributed to this story