Entering the game nine points shy of becoming the 34th member of UW's 1,000-point club, Hughes, along with the rest of his Wisconsin teammates, wasted no time in finishing the tasks at hand.
Hughes scored nine points in the first 5 minutes, 36 seconds to enter the exclusive fraternity and Wisconsin blazed out of the gates on a 33-6 run to cruise by Cal Poly, 90-48, Wednesday night at the Kohl Center.
Playing a day before finals start on Madison's campus, Wisconsin (8-2) had no trouble passing what on paper was an easy test. The Badgers saw four players reach double figures – Hughes (20 points), junior Jon Leuer (15), junior Keaton Nankivil (12) and senior Jason Bohannon (12) – and shot 60.8 percent from the floor as a team.
"It was fun because our offense was clicking tonight," Hughes said. "We just played as a team and I feel like everybody was moving well and playing great defense. I think everybody was just on point, even with finals week coming. Once the jump ball game, everybody was real focused."
Wisconsin's five starters shot 62.9 percent compared to Cal Poly entire team shooting 36.2 percent, whose 2-0 led didn't last, while Nankivil made 4 of 6 field-goal attempts in the first half for 10 of his 12 points in 15 minutes; Bohannon made 4-of-6 three-pointers after entered the night 14-of-40 from three-point range and sophomore Jordan Taylor registered a career-high seven assists coupled with no turnovers.
"How about that?" UW Coach Bo Ryan stated about Taylor's stat line. "He sees what a good penetration-dish, a good over-the-top pass or a bounce pass … can do with the basketball to help his teammates. He's been able to score some points and take care of the ball and defensively just be a bulldog for us."
Shooting 33 percent from three-point range entering the contest, Wisconsin made 13 of its 24 three-point attempts (54.2 percent), tying the Kohl Center record for most made three-point baskets (accomplished three times).
"We just try to go out there and play our game and stay aggressive throughout the 40 minutes," Hughes said. "If we let up, that's when mistakes happen."
The star of the night was Hughes, who didn't waste any time chipping away at history. The senior from Queens, N.Y., hit his first two shots from the floor (including a three from the elbow) and was fouled driving to the bucket for two more. So when the ball left his hands on a jumper from the top of the key at 14:24 in the first, the announced crowd of 17,230 already knew the result. The swish forced Cal Poly (3-6) to burn a timeout to regroup and allow the public address announcer time to announce the feet.
When the team huddle broke and the triumph was announced, Hughes received a standing ovation, resulting in a wry smile and a wave to the crowd.
"It was like a big weight off my shoulders," Hughes said. "I came out tonight and I couldn't miss. The only thing that slowed me down was halftime." Added Ryan: "For Trevon, for in four years to put those kind of numbers up and play on teams that probably averaged 24-25 wins a year, that's saying a lot. He's doing that where he is just not the scorer we're looking to get 20-25 shots a game. He's done that in a very democratic offense and system." In all honesty, the fans and students braving the chilly elements could have had their pick on who to applaud. Wisconsin made 14 of its first 17 shots in building its 33-6 lead, but the numbers never deflated.
Finishing the first half shooting 64.3 percent (17-of-22), Hughes first half line was typical of his season -17 points, five boards, three assists and two steals – and his teammates responded, out rebounding the Mustangs (3-6), registering 12 assists to five turnovers and saw three UW players crack double-digits in scoring.
Although halftime stopped Hughes, the Badgers kept rolling in the final 20 minutes.
"Sometimes teams will look like a million dollars and other times teams, for whatever reason and including ours, can't quite get things to happen for them," Ryan said. "Once we got the lead, I think it forced them to do some things they weren't comfortable with, and that was to our advantage."
Cal Poly looked like a team playing its second game in as many nights. Less than 24 hours removed from a 73-66 victory at South Dakota State, the Mustangs struggled from the floor – 30.8 percent – and committed 11 first-half turnovers. Down 32 at halftime, things didn't get much better, as Cal Poly trailed by as many as 52 points in the second half.
"What you saw was a very fatigued, flat Cal Poly team," Cal Poly coach Joe Callero said. "What we really tried to simulate what it would be like if we got to a tournament. We knew we bit off more than we could chew."