Cedar City, UT - Josh Akognon scored 23 points and Kenneth Alexander had a career-high 17 Saturday night to lead Cal State Fullerton to a 78-63 non-conference men's basketball victory at Southern Utah.
The Titans improved to 3-0 with their first road win while the Thunderbirds fell to 1-2 in the home coaching debut of new Coach Roger Reid.
Fullerton jumped out to an early 6-1 lead on 6 points by Frank Robinson and never lost that lead. The Titans led by as many as 25 points despite foul trouble throughout the game.
Southern Utah committed 25 turnovers to more than offset a 42-28 edge on the backboards. The Titans got into serious foul trouble with Andrew Green and Marcus Morgan each getting two quick personals. Green would pick up a third and Akognon also got a third in the final 75 seconds of the first half. All 10 healthy Titan players saw action before intermission.
The pressure defense also contributed to 14 first-half turnovers by the Thunderbirds, many in the paint as the Titans would double team. Southern Utah didn't take full advantage of Fullerton's foul troubles, making only 8 of 14 at the line.
"Southern Utah didn't quit, they just got too far behind," said Head Coach Bob Burton. "I didn't like the way we finished the game.
"Our quickness contributed to their 25 turnovers. We've pressured everyone, including USC in a scrimmage. That changed with these referees. They wouldn't let us play the same way.
"This is a great environment. Getting a big early lead took the crowd out of it a little.
"Attacking the basket is our offense. We need to penetrate and open things up for our good shooters."
Fullerton broke the game open by finishing the half with a 19-8 run, turning a 20-16 lead at 7:38 into a 39-24 halftime lead. Neither team scored much at the outset of the second half but the Titans pulled out to a 25-point lead at 54-29 with 13:40 to play.
Southern Utah had a 5-point possession to get within 13 points at 62-49 with 8:42 to play but Akognon fed Robinson for a spectacular lob dunk and then buried a pair of treys to boost the lead back to 70-51 at 7:28.
Akognon finished 5-for-12 from 3-point range and is now 18-for-38 for the season. He led the Titans with 6 rebounds.
Alexander's previous scoring high was 12 points.
This is the third season in a row that the Titans have opened 2-0 at home and then won their road opener. Two years ago it was at South Dakota State and last year it came at Texas-San Antonio.
Fullerton is idle through the Thanksgiving weekend before embarking on a difficult road trip to No. 17-ranked Arizona and Montana on Nov. 28 and 30, respectively. Southern Utah hosts another Big West Conference foe in Cal Poly on Tuesday night.