But with senior guard A.D. Vassallo being the main reason the Hokies eliminated a seven-point lead in the game's final minute, Hughes knew that he had to make something happen to avoid overtime.
After Vassallo nailed a three-pointer from the top of the key to tie the game at 72 with seven seconds left, Hughes took the inbounds pass, drove the length of the floor and hit a falling jumper with .9 seconds left to help No.22 Wisconsin snatch victory from the jaws of defeat in a thrilling 74-72 victory over Virginia Tech.
"It took forever," Hughes said of his shot. "It was like in slow motion."
The win marks the first-ever road victory for the Badgers in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge and gives the Big Ten Conference a 1-0 lead in the race to six victories.
"Big Ten gets a win on the road, that's great for the league. Wisconsin gets a win on the road, that's great for us and our guys," said Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan, as the Badgers shot 51 percent and had only six turnovers Monday night. "It's not easy out there, but our guys hung in there."
This is was far from a typical Wisconsin Basketball game. Since Ryan took over eight years ago, his M.O. was simple: touch the post on every possession, pound the boards and good things will happen.
Being out rebounded 26-22 and out scored in the paint 22-18 by the Hokies, Wisconsin (6-1) needed to find another way to get its scoring production. The Badgers found it on the perimeter.
The Badgers had four players in double figures and were led by senior Marcus Landry's 18 points. Sophomore Jon Leuer contributed 17 points with Hughes scoring 12 and Bohannon 11.
With the Badgers playing their fifth game in the last 11 days, four of which were on the road, UW showed no signs of sluggishness, especially when Hokie guard A.D. Vassallo kept throwing haymakers at Wisconsin. Vassallo scored a game-high 30 points, 24 coming after halftime, and was pouring it on from the perimeter and the paint.
The senior's 30 points was a career high and was a big help to Virginia Tech (4-3), as the Hokies played virtually the whole game without sophomore forward Jeff Allen. Virginia Tech's leading scorer at 16.8 ppg, Allen scored only two points and fouled out after playing only 15 minutes, as he was plagued with foul trouble from the opening minute.
"We were paying so much attention to Allen and took his presence away. Vassallo was hitting fade left, fade right, knocking down threes," Ryan said. "We were trying to take him out of his rhythm. Some of those threes were unbelievable."
Although Vassallo keep throwing punches, Wisconsin always seemed to have an answer.
After Vassallo hit a two-point runner in the lane to cut the lead to 59-56, Bohannon answered with his third 3-pointer of the half to help engineer an 8-2 run to push the lead to 67-58 with one minute, eight seconds left.
When Vassallo nailed a three-point to finish an 11-3 run to cut the lead to 69-68 with 17 seconds left, Bohannon, shooting 73.1 percent from the free-throw line, calming sunk two free throws to push the lead to three.
But Vassallo wouldn't let Virginia Tech go quietly, hitting his sixth three-point to tie the game, and set the stage for the Badgers' last counter punch.
"We kept running our stuff, like even when the game kind of got away from us and they kind of got back within a few points, we just kept running our stuff," said Landry.
Wisconsin had everything clicking from the perimeter in the first half, shooting 6-for-10 from the three-point line and 8-for-9 from the free-throw line, both of which contributed to the Badgers building a 38-30 halftime lead. Landry and Leuer were a big part of that effort, as both players reached double figures in the game's first 20 minutes (Landry with 12, Leuer with 10).
"You consider our schedule and what we've been on, (Tech) had to hit 11-of-16 threes just to make it that type of game," Ryan said. "Our guys were rested enough by their teammates. We got some quality minutes from guys that in this kind of situation, might not have had earlier in the year."