It was Wisconsin’s Trevon Hughes who played offensive explosion in the first half, but it was Jon Leuer who played executioner in the second.
Jon Leuer poured in 20 points and Trevon Hughes added 19 of his own, as the fourth-seeded Wisconsin Badgers fought off thirteenth-seeded Wofford 53-49 in the first round of NCAA tournament action on Friday.
The ‘offensive torch’ seemed to have been passed on at halftime from Trevon Hughes to Jon Leuer. Trevon Hughes led the way for Wisconsin in the first half with hot shooting from both the floor and the charity stripe.
Trevon looked much better in the early stages of the contest than he did the Big Ten Conference Tournament, in which he began a game 0-12 from the field. It was a much more confident Hughes in this one, as he scored at will for Wisconsin and at one point had 10 of Wisconsin’s 12 total points, alone.
Wisconsin (24-8) ran its typical half court style of play early in the game and controlled not only the tempo but the scoreboard as well, heading into half with an 8-point lead. But, Wisconsin was forced to pick up the pace in the second, when Wofford came out of the half with red-hot shooting.
Wofford hit five straight shots out of the break and suddenly found themselves right back in the contest. Wofford’s Jamar Diggs lead the second half surge scoring 11 of his 13 points in the first five minutes after the half.
Wisconsin, however, "kept the dogs at bay" by playing their tough defense that helped hold off the Terriers’ hot shooting.
Despite being red-hot from the floor, Wofford (26-9) couldn’t quite say the same from the line. Wofford went through a period in the second half in which they missed five straight free throws. The Terriers also missed two key free throws in the final minutes.
The gritty Wisconsin defense forced a couple key steals late in the game. One of which came from Trevon Hughes stripping Jamar Diggs at about half-court and then driving down court, into the lane and scoring a crucial late basket.
One of the biggest plays for the Badgers may have come from Wisconsin’s Keaton Nankivil. In the last minute of the game Nankivil secured an offensive rebound off of a Badger miss which resulted in a fresh 35 on the shot clock and allowed Wisconsin to run the clock down to about 17 seconds.
It was only fitting then, that the two offensive stars on the day for Wisconsin would handle the rest. Trevon Hughes drove the center of the lane and kicked out to a wide open Jon Leuer who hit a baseline jumper with 17 seconds remaining to break a 49-49 tie and give the Badgers a two point lead.
On Wofford’s last possession, they turned the ball over driving to the hoop and it was Wisconsin ball. Jon Leuer was quickly fouled on the inbound and added a pair of free throws in the closing seconds to seal the Badger victory.
Wisconsin advanced to the second round for the fourth consecutive year and will be matched up against No. 12-seeded Cornell on Sunday.