When one of Wisconsin’s top players went down in January, the team’s two seniors stepped up to keep the Badgers competitive.
Wisconsin hopes that Trevon Hughes and Jason Bohannon can lead them on deep runs in the Big Ten and NCAA tournaments as well.
Hughes and Bohannon play for the final time at the Kohl Center on Wednesday night, when No. 15 Wisconsin tries for its ninth straight home win over Iowa.
The Badgers (21-7, 11-5) have clinched a first-round bye in the conference tournament. It’s unlikely they would be in that position without Hughes and Bohannon, who average 15.5 and 12.4 points, respectively.
The two were key in helping the Badgers overcome Jon Leuer’s broken wrist in January. Leuer, who was averaging a team-high 15.4 points before the injury, missed nine games, but Wisconsin went 6-3 over that stretch.
“Between (Hughes) and Jason, they’re our senior leaders,” Leuer said after a 78-46 win at Indiana on Thursday. “We know we’re going to get great leadership from those two guys.”
Hughes finished with 17 points against the Hoosiers despite being held scoreless for the first 12 minutes. He scored eight straight in the opening half to help Wisconsin take a 39-22 lead at the break.
Each of Wisconsin’s starters scored in double figures.
The Badgers, winners of three of four, are giving up the fewest points in the Big Ten at 56.7 per game. They held Indiana to 35.3 percent shooting and forced 18 turnovers.
“We’re just trying to finish as high as we can in the Big Ten,” coach Bo Ryan said.
This is the only matchup between Wisconsin and Iowa this season. The Badgers have won five of the last six meetings, and have taken eight straight at home in the series since a 61-55 loss Jan. 29, 2000. Wisconsin won the last four of those games by an average of 14 points.
The Badgers, 15-1 at the Kohl Center, have a chance for another decisive victory as they host the lowest-scoring team in the conference.
Iowa (10-19, 4-12) is 1-8 on the road and dropped its last four away from home. The Hawkeyes were held to less than 50 points in two of those games and have reached 60 only twice on the road all season.
Iowa is averaging 61.8 points overall.
The Hawkeyes managed to snap a three-game losing streak by defeating Indiana 73-57 on Saturday. Matt Gatens scored 25 points and Aaron Fuller added 17 for Iowa, which opened on a 17-4 run and never trailed.
The Hawkeyes haven’t won two in a row since early January. They have dropped 17 straight against ranked opponents since a 43-36 win over then-No. 6 Michigan State on Jan. 12, 2008.