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Titans Defeat Defending WIAC Champion In League Opener

Brett Wittchow recorded his second career double-double with 27 points (career high), 10 rebounds and four assists against the Pioneers.
Brett Wittchow recorded his second career double-double with 27 points (career high), 10 rebounds and four assists against the Pioneers.

Brett Wittchow had a career-high 27 points and a season-best 10 rebounds, Jack Flynn added a double-double of his own, and the nationally ranked UW-Oshkosh men's basketball team cruised to a 96-70 victory over defending WIAC champion UW-Platteville during the league opener for both squads on Wednesday (Jan. 2) in Kolf Sports Center.

UW-Oshkosh (11-1, 1-0 WIAC), ranked sixth in the NCAA Division III by D3hoops.com, broke the game open with a 17-2 run for a 29-9 lead midway through the first half. The Titans, who never trailed in defeating the Pioneers for the sixth time in the past eight meetings, led by at least 11 points for the final 33:49 of the contest.

The Titans went on to lead by as many as 36 points (72-36) with 12:28 remaining and owned an advantage of at least 23 points for the entire second half en route to their largest margin of victory over UW-Platteville since also winning by 26 points (94-68) in the WIAC Championship quarterfinals on Feb. 22, 2001.

Wittchow scored 18 of his points during the first half and concluded the contest shooting 9-for-15 from the field and 6-for-9 from 3-point range. He recorded his second career-double while adding four assists.

Flynn contributed 14 points on 6 of 9 shooting from the floor and 12 rebounds for his 11th career double-double.

Ben Boots had 15 points and a game-high six assists for the Titans, who also received 12 points on four 3-pointers from reserve David Vlotho. UW-Oshkosh's Adam Fravert chipped in 15 points, seven rebounds, four assists, two blocks and two steals. Fravert entered the night with a WIAC-leading 22 blocks.

Boots and Fravert both drained three 3-pointers as the Titans matched their season high with 17 long-range jumpers on 30 attempts for a season-best .567 percentage. UW-Oshkosh's 17 3-pointers are the second most in program history and the seventh-highest total by a WIAC team.

UW-Oshkosh, which scored at least 90 points for the seventh time this season, ended the game shooting 55.7 percent (34-61) from the field and 61.1 percent (11-18) at the free throw line. The Titans also owned advantages of 42-26 in rebounds, 17-10 in assists, 8-4 in steals and 5-1 in blocks. UW-Oshkosh has out-rebounded each of its last 14 opponents dating back to last season.

The Titans, who won their 10th straight game, went into Wednesday's contest ranked fifth in the country with a 1.70 assist-to-turnover ratio and eighth with a +11.1 average rebounding margin and a +23.1 average scoring margin. UW-Oshkosh, winner of its last 10 home games, was also leading the conference in field goal percentage defense (.401) and per-game assists (17.8), made 3-pointers (10) and blocks (4.5).

UW-Platteville (7-5, 0-1 WIAC), the lone league team to sweep a regular season series over UW-Oshkosh last season, suffered its most lopsided loss since an 88-57 setback at UW-La Crosse on Jan. 6, 2016. The Pioneers shot just 35.6 percent (21-59) from the floor, 32 percent (8-25) from beyond the 3-point arc while converting at an 87 percent (20-23) clip at the foul line.

Reigning WIAC Player of the Year Robert Duax and Quentin Shields paced UW-Platteville with 14 points apiece. Shields went 10 of 10 at the free throw line and dished out a team-high three assists.

Blake McCann and Carter Voelker both added 10 points for the Pioneers while Kyle Tuma recorded six points and a team-high six rebounds.

UW-Oshkosh took the lead for good at 5-2 on a 3-pointer by Wittchow 73 seconds into the game. The Titans made seven of their first 10 field goal attempts, including back-to-back 3-pointers by Boots and Fravert that provided an 18-7 lead with 13:49 to go in the first half.

UW-Oshkosh's 17-2 run featured six different scorers as Alex Van Dyke capped the surge with a layup for a 29-9 advantage. UW-Platteville shot 1-for-7 from the floor and committed three turnovers during the Titans' decisive run that spanned more than five minutes.

Wittchow, who went 7-for-10 from the field during the opening half, hit a 3-pointer and drove for a layup on consecutive possessions to extend the Titans' lead to 39-21. A Fravert 3-pointer gave UW-Oshkosh a 53-28 advantage before Shields made a pair of free throws to trim the Pioneers' deficit to 53-30 at intermission.

UW-Platteville was held scoreless for nearly four minutes to begin the second half. The Pioneers missed their first seven field goal attempts of the period before Alex Ranney scored in the paint at the 15:09 mark.

UW-Oshkosh took advantage of the Pioneer drought, opening the second half with a 19-6 run for its largest lead of 72-36 following a 3-pointer by Boots with 12:28 left.

UW-Platteville defeated UW-Oshkosh by scores of 68-62 and 72-57 last season.

The Titans will attempt to win 11 games in a row for the first time since the 1996-97 season when they travel to UW-Stout on Saturday (Jan. 5).