Akognon Goes, Titans Don't

Cal State Fullerton's Josh Akognon did everything he could to bring down the Badgers, scoring a game-high 31 points, but his teammates were no match for third-seed Wisconsin.

OMAHA, Neb.— One man did all he could to take down the mighty University of Wisconsin men's basketball team, but fell short despite a magnificent shooting display.

Cal State Fullerton guard Josh Akognon, a junior from Petaluma, Calif., tied his career high with 31 points, slicing and dicing the nation's best defense. That is the largest individual scoring amount the Badgers have allowed this season.

"Everything we threw at him, he was able to create his own space," UW guard Michael Flowers said. "Today, he did a great job, he put his team on his back and tried to carry them to a victory."

But since Akognon's teammates had little support for their scoring leader, the Badgers (30-4) pulled away late for a 71-56 win Thursday night in an NCAA first-round game at the Qwest Center.

Akognon leads high-scoring Cal State Fullerton (24-9) with 19.9 points per game, and exceeded that mark by a double-digit margin. He shot 11-for-23 from the floor, including 5-for-12 on three-pointers.

Problem is, the rest of the Titans – the nation's fifth-highest scoring team at 82.7 points – average 62.8 points per contest. They combined for just 25; only two Titans had more than three points (Frank Robinson with 11 and Scott Cutley with 9).

Other than Akognon, Cal State Fullerton shot just 10-for-35 (29 percent), was 2-of-9 behind the arc, and made three of eight free throw attempts.

"This is a team that averages 80 points a game," Flowers said. "Obviously, they weren't close to that mark, so that's a defensive accomplishment for us tonight."

Over an eight-minute stretch late in the second half, Akognon scored 13 straight Cal State Fullerton points, and actually outscored the Badgers 13-10 until three and a half minutes left in the game.

"He was taking tough shots," guard Jason Bohannon said. "Mike (Flowers) played great defense on a lot of (Akognon's shots) and he still hit them. Some players will be able to do that sometimes."

Then once the Titans were forced to foul, UW started getting more free throws, and Akognon missed a few long three-point attempts and couldn't pull Cal State Fullerton any closer than eight points in the closing minutes.

"My teammates were getting me open," Akognon said of his 31 points. "They were getting me the ball in the right areas, the right positions, and that's the only I can get off, so it was completely a team effort."

On UW's end, it was a balanced scoring effort once again, as senior center Brian Butch led the way with 14 points. Bohannon and forward Joe Krabbenhoft added 13, and three other Badgers contributed at least eight points.

One year after Wisconsin had to dig itself out of an 18-point hole in its first-round game against Texas A&M Corpus Christi, the Titans hung with the Badgers for a little over a half of basketball.

But when every Titan except Akognon went cold shooting the basketball, UW slowly and methodically pulled away the way the Badgers usually do – with clutch shooting and a lot of free throws.

"It's not pretty, but if you look back at all our 30 wins, they all haven't been pretty either," Butch said. "They're not all going to be easy, but all that matters is getting on the (winning) side."

Game Notes Cal State doesn't start a player over 6-foot-5, while Wisconsin has four regular players of 6-foot-7 or taller. The size difference showed; UW held a 50-28 rebounding edge and a 7-0 blocks advantage

Flowers had two steals for a career total of 170, pushing him past Mike Wilkinson and Michael Finley into third place on the all-time UW steals list

UW's bench players got 19 points; no reserves scored for Cal State Fullerton

Flowers had two steals for a career total of 170, pushing him past Mike Wilkinson and Michael Finley into third place on the all-time UW steals list

Krabbenhoft hit a three-pointer at the 9:12 mark of the first half, just his fifth trey of the year

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