Butler Begins A-10 Play At League Favorite
A-10 OPENER: The wait is over. Butler will make its men's basketball debut in the Atlantic 10 Conference when it visits Saint Joseph's on Wednesday, Jan. 9. The conference-opener for both teams is scheduled for 7 p.m. (ET) at Michael J. Hagan '85 Arena in Philadelphia, Pa. The Bulldogs won't be taking an easy route into the new conference. Saint Joseph's (8-4), featuring three preseason all-conference players, was tabbed as the A-10 favorite in the annual preseason coaches/media poll. The Hawks, 4-1 at home this season, won their third consecutive game with a 70-60 victory at Morgan State on Saturday (Jan. 5). Butler wrapped up its pre-conference schedule with a 57-44 victory at home over New Orleans. The win was Butler's ninth in a row and lifted the nationally-ranked Bulldogs to 12-2 on the season. Butler will continue its opening week of conference play at Dayton on Saturday, Jan. 12.
Butler is off to its best start since 2008-09, when the Bulldogs won 19 of their first 20 games.
POLL CLIMBING: Butler is ranked in the "Top 25" of both the Associated Press national poll and the USA Today Coaches Poll for the fourth consecutive week. The Bulldogs are No. 14 in the week's A.P. poll and No. 17 in the coaches poll. Butler's victory over top-ranked Indiana on Dec. 15 vaulted the Bulldogs into the "Top 25" of both major national polls for the first time since November of 2010. The Bulldogs joined the Associated Press "Top 25" at No. 19 and the USA Today Coaches Poll at No. 25.
Butler has appeared in the national "Top 25" in six of the past seven seasons.
STREAKING 'DOGS: The Bulldogs, who were unbeaten in December, enter Atlantic 10 Conference play with a nine-game winning streak. That stretch includes six home decisions, two road victories and a neutral court win over top-ranked Indiana. It's the fifth time since Brad Stevens took over as Butler's head coach that the Bulldogs have had a winning streak of at least nine games.
CONFERENCE LOOK: Twelve of the 16 Atlantic 10 Conference teams finished pre-conference play with a winning record, and nine A-10 teams already have recorded at least 10 wins. Only the Big East Conference has more teams (12) with 10 or more wins.
CALENDAR SWITCH: Butler kicked off the new year and closed out its pre-conference schedule with back-to-back, 13-point home wins. The Bulldogs used a strong inside performance by forwards Roosevelt Jones and Khyle Marshall to post a 70-57 victory over Penn on the second day of 2013, and then held off a determined New Orleans squad, 57-44, three days later. The two wins lifted Butler to 7-0 at home this season. Jones scored a game-high 24 points and Marshall added 14 to spark the Bulldogs against Penn. Points were less prevalent against the deliberate style of New Orleans, but freshman Kellen Dunham came off the bench with a game-high 15 points to help fuel the win. Butler never trailed in the second half of either game.
Butler is 10-0 this season when leading at halftime.
SECOND CHANCE: The Bulldogs used a strong rebounding performance to prevail against both Penn and New Orleans. Butler out-rebounded Penn, 36-21, and turned 13 offensive rebounds into an 18-4 advantage in "second chance" points. Against New Orleans, Butler had a 33-22 advantage on the boards and a 19-2 margin in second chance points. The Bulldogs, who lead the Atlantic 10 Conference in rebounding margin (+8.6), have had a rebounding advantage over their opponent in 12 of their first 14 games this season. Butler leads the A-10 in both offensive rebounding percentage (.394) and defensive rebounding percentage (.739).
Butler has out-scored its opponents, 197-113 in second chance points this season.
FRESH LOOK: Freshman Kellen Dunham came off the bench to provide the Bulldogs with a lift against both Penn and New Orleans. The 6-6 guard from Pendleton, Ind., had 10 points and two rebounds in 23 minutes of action against Penn, and then he led the Bulldogs with 15 points, while adding two rebounds, two assists and a steal against New Orleans. He scored nine points in the second half against the Privateers, helping Butler stretch a six-point halftime lead to double-figures. Dunham, a three-time Atlantic 10 Conference Rookie of the Week, has scored in double-figures in four straight games for the Bulldogs and in six of Butler's last seven outings.
Kellen Dunham has averaged 11.4 points over Butler's current winning streak.
CAREER NIGHT: Sophomore Roosevelt Jones scored a career-high 24 points, while adding six rebounds, a team-high three assists, a pair of steals and the Bulldogs' lone blocked shot in Butler's win over Penn. He connected on a career-best ten field goals in 15 attempts and added four of seven shots from the free throw line. Three days later, Jones had 11 points, six rebounds and four assists against New Orleans.
Roosevelt Jones has scored in double-figures in five of Butler's last six games.
SHORT LIST: For only the fourth time in his collegiate career and only the second time since his freshman season, Butler scoring leader Rotnei Clarke was held below ten points in back-to-back games. Clarke posted a season-low four points against New Orleans, after scoring six points against Penn. The 6-0 guard has scored in double-figures 11 times in Butler's 14 games, including a season-high 27 points against Illinois in the championship game of the Maui Invitational. He's had at least a share of Butler's scoring lead in nine of the Bulldogs' first 14 games.
Rotnei Clarke ranks fourth in the Atlantic 10 Conference in scoring (16.2 ppg).
SHARP-SHOOTERS: Butler boasts three of the top 11 field goal shooters in the Atlantic 10 Conference, including two of the top five. Senior Andrew Smith, who hit four of six shots against New Orleans, leads the Bulldogs and ranks fourth in the A-10 with a .563 field goal percentage, while junior Khyle Marshall stands second on the team and fifth in the conference at .562. Sophomore Roosevelt Jones ranks 11th in the A-10 at .545. Sophomore Kameron Woods is shooting .559 on the year, but he doesn't have enough field goals made to qualify for the league rankings. As a team, Butler ranks second in the conference with a .461 team shooting percentage.
•Senior Andrew Smith has started 81 of Butler's last 83 games, including both Final Four games in 2011.
•Andrew Smith is shooting 64.2% during Butler's current winning streak.
•Andrew Smith stands sixth on Butler's all-time list for field goal percentage (.549).
•Andrew Smith has averaged 13.1 points and 5.6 rebounds during Butler's current winning streak.
•Butler is 8-0 this season when Andrew Smith scores in double-figures.
•Andrew Smith needs 97 points to become the 34th Butler player to score 1,000 career points.
•Andrew Smith recorded his 500th career rebound in Butler's victory over New Orleans. He enters Atlantic 10 Conference play with 502 career rebounds.
•Senior Rotnei Clarke ranks second in the A-10 and seventh in the NCAA Division I in three-point field goals made per game (3.7). Clarke has had at least four three-pointers in nine of Butler's first 14 games.
•Rotnei Clarke has averaged 3.1 three-point field goals per game for his career.
•Rotnei Clarke has hit a three-point field goal in each of his last 26 collegiate games, dating back to his final season at Arkansas.
•Rotnei Clarke ranks tenth in the Atlantic 10 Conference in three-point field goal percentage (.430).
•Rotnei Clarke had scored in double-figures in 10 consecutive games prior to the Penn contest.
•Senior Chase Stigall needs one three 3-point field goal to reach 100 for his career.
•Junior Khyle Marshall leads the Bulldogs and ranks 14th in the Atlantic 10 Conference in offensive rebounds (2.4).
•Khyle Marshall scored in double-figures in both of Butler's home games last week. He had 14 points in 21 minutes against Penn and 13 points in 23 minutes against New Orleans.
•Khyle Marshall has hit 16 of 23 (.696) field goal attempts in Butler's last three games.
•Sophomore Roosevelt Jones has led the Bulldogs in assists in four of the team's past five games and in nine total games on the season.
•Sophomore Alex Barlow has had at least one steal in 10 consecutive games, and he now shares the team lead (15) with Roosevelt Jones.
•Freshman Kellen Dunham leads the A-10 and ranks third in the NCAA Division I in free throw shooting (.942).
•Butler has won its last 16 games when holding its opponent under 60 points.
•Butler has five "Top 10" wins under head coach Brad Stevens. The Bulldogs defeated #4 Syracuse and #7 Kansas State in the 2010 NCAA Tournament and #4 Pittsburgh in the 2011 national tournament, prior to beating #1 Indiana and #9 North Carolina this season.
•Butler is 57-6 under head coach Brad Stevens when hitting at least nine three-point field goals in a game.
Where Are They Now: Philadelphia native and former Butler standout Mike Green is currently averaging 13.3 points for Cimberio in Italy. His team is 13-1 and leading the SerieA Division. Green was the leading scorer (14.6) and rebounder (6.5) on Butler's 2007-08 team, which posted a 30-4 record and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.