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Butch, Wisconsin outmuscle Cal-State Fullerton

Mar 21, 2008 - 5:50 AM OMAHA, Nebraska (Ticker) -- Wisconsin's frontcourt was too much for Cal-State Fullerton and its hot-shooting guard to handle.

Brian Butch had 14 points and nine rebounds and Joe Krabbenhoft added 13 and nine as the third-seeded Badgers pulled away for a 71-56 victory over the 14th-seeded Titans in the Midwest Regional's first-round matchup on Thursday.

Wisconsin (30-4) outrebounded the smaller Titans, who do not have a starter taller than 6-5, by a 50-27 margin and will move on to face Kansas State in the second round on Saturday.

"I thought our guys responded well to a very hard-fought game, especially in the first half," Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said. "And then we stayed true to our principles and started to get some space, but I'll tell you, they have unlimited range, a couple of their guys, and are very scrappy on defense."

Josh Akognon matched a career high with 31 points to try and keep the Titans in the game, but Cal-State Fullerton (25-9) never got closer than eight over the final 10 minutes.

"Yeah, he can get 40, he had a couple of rattle in and come out," Ryan said. "Until he hit those two or three at the end, I felt pretty comfortable with how he was being played."

Wisconsin appeared to be in control after a 16-2 run gave the Badgers a 26-18 lead with 6:11 remaining in the first half.

But Cal-State Fullerton finished the half strong, tying the game at 28-28 before Butch's tip-in gave Wisconsin a two-point edge at intermission.

"Coming into halftime, we were real positive," Akognon said. "A lot of us went out there and started playing hard. We jumped on them early, but then we just started to fall out of it."

Trailing by one early in the second half, Wisconsin went on a 15-3 run - capped by a layup by Krabbenhoft - to take a 45-34 advantage with 12:24 left to play.

"I've been doing the same things I've been trying to do all year - contribute in every part of the game and just help our team win, as does everybody on the court," Krabbenhoft said. "We all have our roles that we try to play. My teammates did a great job finding me."

The Badgers cruised from there despite shooting just 3-of-16 from the arc and committing 17 turnovers.

Frank Robinson scored 11 points and was the only other player in double figures for Cal-State Fullerton, which shot 36 percent (21-of-58) from the floor.

"They have big, strong guys and they're Big Ten champs," Titans coach Bob Burton said. "I was happy with the experience that we got. That was terrific. I just wish we could have played a little bit better."