Bulldogs Host Long-Time Foe Ball State
HOME RUN: Butler will play the second of three consecutive home games when it hosts Ball State in a non-conference test on Saturday, Dec. 1. The two long-time central Indiana foes will square off at Hinkle Fieldhouse at 2 p.m. (ET) in a game that will be televised on WNDY-TV. The Bulldogs (4-2) have won three of their last four games, including a 97-73 decision over Hanover to begin the three-game homestand. That victory over the Panthers was Butler's first game after returning from the Maui Invitational, where the Bulldogs posted wins over Marquette and #9 North Carolina and finished as tournament runner-up. Ball State (2-3) has dropped three straight contests, including a 69-63 decision to Cleveland State at Worthen Arena on Wednesday (Nov. 28). Butler and Ball State will be meeting for the 104th time in a series that dates back to 1924-25. The Cardinals won last year's meeting in Muncie, 58-55.
Butler is 71-11 in Hinkle Fieldhouse under head coach Brad Stevens.
STATE STRETCH: Ball State is the second of five opponents from Indiana that Butler will face prior to Christmas. Following the Ball State game, Butler will host IUPUI on Wednesday, Dec. 5, and Evansville on Saturday, Dec. 22. The Bulldogs, who began the Indiana stretch with a victory over Hanover, also will play top-ranked Indiana at the Close The Gap Crossroads Classic in Indianapolis on Saturday, Dec. 15.
Butler is 12-2 against teams from Indiana in Hinkle Fieldhouse under Brad Stevens.
LAST OUTING: All five Butler starters scored in double-figures and the Bulldogs stretched a ten-point halftime lead to a 97-73 victory over visiting Hanover on Tuesday (Nov. 27). Butler scored the first 10 points of the game to grab an early advantage and then steadily built that margin to as many as 30 points in the second half. Senior Rotnei Clarke and junior Khyle Marshall led Butler's balanced effort with 19 points apiece, while senior Andrew Smith chipped in with 13 points. Freshman Kellen Dunham finished with 12 points and sophomore Roosevelt Jones added 10. The last time Butler had all five starters score in double-figures was in a victory at South Dakota State in December of 2005.
Butler's 97 points against Hanover were the most by the Bulldogs since last year's 98-53 victory over Oakland City.
HOT 'DOGS: Butler shot a season-best 59.3% (35-59) against Hanover, including a 61.5% (16-26) performance in the first 20 minutes. All five Butler starters shot 50% or better for the game, with senior Rotnei Clarke connecting on a season-best six of eight (.750) shots from the field including five of six (.833) from beyond the three-point arc. Senior Andrew Smith and sophomore Roosevelt Jones each hit five of seven shots, junior Khyle Marshall connected on seven of 12 and freshman Kellen Dunham hit four of eight attempts. Sophomore Jackson Aldridge and freshman Devontae Morgan each hit both shots they attempted, while senior Chase Stigall was successful on his lone attempt. It was the best shooting performance by Butler since February of 2010, when the Bulldogs hit 27 of 40 (.675) shots against Wright State. Butler currently ranks fourth in the Atlantic 10 Conference in field goal shooting (.456).
FLOOR LEADER: Butler guard Rotnei Clarke, who was one of six players named to the All-Tournament Team at the conclusion of the Maui Invitational, posted his fourth consecutive double-figures scoring performance with 19 points in 25 minutes against Hanover. It was the third straight game that he had at least a piece of the scoring lead for Butler and the fourth time overall this season that he topped the Bulldogs. Clarke, who's played just six games in a Butler uniform since transferring from Arkansas, has averaged 20.8 points over Butler's past four games, including a season-high 27 points against Illinois in the championship game of the Maui Invitational.
Rotnei Clarke leads the Atlantic 10 Conference in scoring (18.5 ppg).
KEY PERFORMER: Junior Khyle Marshall has become a good indicator of Butler's chances for success in the first six games this season. Marshall is averaging 16.8 points and 7.8 rebounds in Butler's four wins this year, but just 7.5 points and 4.5 rebounds in the Bulldogs' two setbacks. The 6-6 forward has shot .651 from the field in the four victories, but just .316 in the two losses. Butler is 4-0 on the year when the forward from Davie, Fla., scores in double-figures. Marshall hit seven of 12 shots, grabbed six rebounds and shared the team scoring lead with 19 points in 22 minutes of action against Hanover. He has averaged 18.3 points in his last three games in Hinkle Fieldhouse.
Khyle Marshall ranks fourth in the Atlantic 10 Conference in offensive rebounds (3.3).
LEAGUE HONOR: Senior guard Rotnei Clarke was named Atlantic 10 Conference Player of the Week for his performance in leading Butler to a runner-up finish at the Maui Invitational. Clarke scored 20 points and hit a deep three-point field goal at the buzzer to lift the Bulldogs past Marquette in the opening round, and then he shared team scoring honors with 17 points in Butler's victory over #9 North Carolina. The 6-0 guard finished the tournament with a game-high 27 points in the championship game against Illinois. Clarke, who was named to the All-Tournament Team at the Maui Invitational, is the first Butler player to earn A-10 Player of the Week honors.
Rotnei Clarke was the second-leading scorer at the Maui Invitational (21.3 ppg).
FIELDHOUSE FACT: The Bulldogs, who are 2-0 in Hinkle Fieldhouse this year, have won at least 10 home games in each of the past 17 seasons. Butler was 13-6 in the Fieldhouse a year ago, after posting a 12-2 mark at home in 2010-11. The Bulldogs are 167-25 in Hinkle Fieldhouse since the start of the 1999-2000 season.
•The Bulldogs have hit 28 three-point field goals in the past three outings, including a season-high 12 three-pointers against North Carolina. The 12 three-pointers were the most for Butler since November 29 of last year, when the Bulldogs hit 15 three-point field goals in a victory over Oakland City.
•Butler is 55-6 under head coach Brad Stevens when hitting at least nine three-point field goals in a game.
•Butler ranks fourth in the Atlantic 10 Conference in three-point field goals (7.5).
•The Bulldogs lead the Atlantic 10 Conference in rebounding margin (+9.0).
•The victory over North Carolina at the Maui Invitational was Butler's first over a nationally-ranked team since March 26, 2011, when the Bulldogs defeated #15 Florida, 74-71 in overtime, in the championship game of the NCAA Division I Southeast Regional.
•Senior Andrew Smith is the only current college basketball player who has played in two Division I national championship games.
•Andrew Smith has moved into tenth place on Butler's all-time list for FG% (.539).
•Andrew Smith played in his 100th career game in Butler's season-opener. Smith has started 74 of Butler's last 76 games, including both Final Four games in 2011.
•Senior Rotnei Clarke is one of 50 players named to the Atlanta Tipoff Club 2012-13 Naismith Early Season Watch List.
•Rotnei Clarke's 27 points against Illinois in the championship game of the Maui Invitational were the most by a Butler player since the 2011 NCAA Tournament, when Shelvin Mack scored 27 points against Florida in the championship game of the Southeast Regional.
•Rotnei Clarke needs one three-point field goal to reach 300 for his collegiate career. Clarke, who has hit 19 three-point field goals in his past four games, has averaged 3.1 three-pointers per game for his career.
•Rotnei Clarke has hit a three-point field goal in each of his last 18 collegiate games.
•Rotnei Clarke nailed six three-point field goals against Illinois. It was the most by a Butler player since the third round of the 2011 NCAA Tournament when Shelvin Mack connected on seven three-pointers in a victory over Pitt.
•Senior Chase Stigall is four three-point field goals shy of 100 for his career.
•Forward Khyle Marshall recorded his second career double-double with 21 points and 16 rebounds against Ball State last year.
•The 16 rebounds by Khyle Marshall against Ball State last year were the most by a Butler player in 2011-12. The last Butler player to have as many rebounds in a game was Matt Howard, who grabbed 16 against Green Bay in January of 2011.
•Sophomore Roosevelt Jones had seven points, five rebounds, two assists and a blocked shot in a team-high 34 minutes against Ball State last year.
•Sophomore Jackson Aldridge came off the bench with a career-high four assists at Ball State last year. He also had four assists against Oakland City.
•Freshman Kellen Dunham was given his first collegiate start in Butler's win over Marquette. He has started Butler's last four games.
•Kellen Dunham continues to lead the Atlantic 10 Conference in free throw shooting (.947).
•Head coach Brad Stevens, who picked up his 143rd career win on Tuesday (Nov. 27), has tied former coach Joe Sexson, 1977-89, for third place on Butler's all-time list for coaching wins.