Connor Duax led all players with a career-high 21 points and Ben Boots added 12 to surpass a career scoring milestone as the nationally ranked UW-Oshkosh men's basketball team defeated UW-Stout, 88-62, Saturday (Feb. 2) in Kolf Sports Center.
UW-Oshkosh (19-1, 9-0 WIAC), ranked fourth in the NCAA Division III by D3hoops.com, built a 49-36 lead at intermission and held UW-Stout to just 30.3 percent (10-33) shooting from the field during the second half on the way to earning its fifth straight victory over the Blue Devils. The Titans also downed UW-Stout by a 77-75 score Jan. 5 in Menomonie.
The Titans, who won their 14th consecutive home contest, increased their school-record winning streak to 18 games. UW-Oshkosh, off to the best record in school history, also matched a program record by starting league play with a 9-0 record, equaling the mark set during the 1967-68 season. The Titans' 18-game winning streak is the eighth longest in WIAC history.
UW-Oshkosh now has a game and a half lead in the league standings over 25th-ranked UW-La Crosse (15-6, 8-2 WIAC). The Titans have five conference games remaining and the second-place Eagles four.
Duax eclipsed his previous career high of 16 points by shooting 7 of 9 from the floor and 5-for-7 at the free throw line. He added three rebounds and three assists.
Boots became the ninth player in program history to reach 1,500 career points. The senior passed the milestone with a 3-pointer that gave UW-Oshkosh a 41-32 lead with 3:14 left in the first half. Boots concluded the contest with 1,506 points in 109 career games.
UW-Oshkosh concluded the game shooting 51.7 percent (31-60) from the field, 34.8 percent (8-23) from 3-point range and 64.3 percent (18-28) at the free throw line. The Titans shot at least 50 percent from the field for the 11th time this season and scored 80 or more points for the 12th time.
The Titans produced advantages of 44-27 in rebounds, 18-11 in assists, 12-13 in turnovers, 8-5 in steals and 4-2 in blocks Saturday. UW-Oshkosh, which advanced to last year's Division III title game, has now outrebounded 21 of its last 22 opponents dating back to last season.
UW-Oshkosh went into Saturday ranked ninth in the country with a +18.6 average scoring margin and 10.5 turnovers committed per game while listing 10th nationally with a +9.9 average rebounding margin and a 1.53 assist-to-turnover ratio. The Titans were also pacing the WIAC in scoring (84.9), assists per game (16.0), made 3-pointers (188), blocks (83), field goal percentage defense (.408) and 3-point percentage defense (.320).
UW-Stout (6-15, 0-10 WIAC), which suffered its 11th consecutive loss, shot just 40 percent (24-60) from the floor, 21.7 percent (5-23) from behind the 3-point arc and 69.2 percent (9-13) at the foul line. The Blue Devils collected their second fewest steals of the season after entering the night with a WIAC-high 154 on the season.
Luke Geiger and Garret Parks led UW-Stout with 18 and 14 points, respectively. Geiger and Parks combined to shoot 12-for-20 from the floor while the rest of the Blue Devils were 12-for-40.
UW-Stout scored the first four points of the game, but that was the largest lead for either team until Duax drained a 3-pointer for a 32-26 UW-Oshkosh advantage with 6:31 remaining in the first half.
A layup by Vlotho gave the Titans a 43-32 lead at the 2:49 mark of the opening period. UW-Oshkosh went on to maintain a double-digit lead for the last 21 minutes after a pair of Fravert free throws gave the Titans a 47-36 advantage with 63 seconds to play in the first half.
UW-Oshkosh scored eight unanswered points for a 67-42 lead following a layup from Wittchow with 11:53 to play. The Titans owned their largest advantage of 28 points on two occasions as Jack Flynn scored in the lane for an 83-55 lead with 4:28 to go before Jake Zeitler hit a 3-pointer to make the score 88-60 at the 1:55 mark.
With Saturday's triumph UW-Oshkosh interim head coach Matt Lewis is now the leader in winning percentage among all 2,189 active NCAA men's and women's basketball coaches at .950.
UW-Oshkosh remains at home to host UW-Whitewater on Monday (Feb. 4) in a game that was postponed last Wednesday (Jan. 30) due to extreme low temperatures. The Titans beat the Warhawks, 82-75, Jan. 16 in Whitewater.