Butler Hosts Saint Louis In First Place Showdown
TOP SHOT: Butler closes out a two-game homestand with a shot a first place in the Atlantic 10 Conference when it hosts league-leading Saint Louis on Friday, Feb. 22. The key conference game at Hinkle Fieldhouse is scheduled for a 7 p.m. (ET) tip-off and will be televised on ESPNU. Saint Louis took over sole possession of first place in the A-10 with a convincing, 76-62, home victory over No. 24 and previous A-10 leader VCU on Tuesday (Feb. 19). The win lifted the Billikens to 20-5 overall and 9-2 in the A-10, one-half game ahead of Butler. It also stretched the Billikens' current winning steak to eight straight games, the longest active steak in the conference. Included in that eight-game win streak is a 75-58 victory over Butler on Jan. 31 in St. Louis. Overall, the Billikens have won 17 of their past 19 contests. Butler improved to 22-5 on the season and 9-3 in the A-10 with a 68-49 home victory over Duquesne on Tuesday. The Bulldogs never trailed in the game, while picking up their fifth win in six games since their last meeting with Saint Louis. Following the home test with the Billikens, Butler will have a week off before visiting VCU on Saturday, March 2, for a noon (ET) game that will be televised nationally on ESPN2.
Butler has 22 wins for the 16th time in school history.
POLL WATCH: Butler is ranked No. 15 in both the Associated Press national poll and the USA Today Coaches' Poll this week. It's the sixth straight week that the Bulldogs have been ranked in the "Top 15" of both national polls. Butler's victory over No. 1 Indiana on Dec. 15 vaulted the Bulldogs into the "Top 25" of both national polls for the first time since November of 2010. The Bulldogs joined the A.P. "Top 25" at No. 19 and the Coaches Poll at No. 25.
Butler is ranked in the national "Top 25" for the tenth consecutive week.
HOME VALUE: The Bulldogs, who are 13-1 in Hinkle Fieldhouse this season, have won at least 10 home games in 18 consecutive seasons. Butler is 225-33 at home over that 18-season stretch, including three unbeaten home records. Butler's current seniors are 53-9 in Hinkle Fieldhouse. The Bulldogs have just two home games remaining, beginning with the Saint Louis contest.
Butler is 82-12 in Hinkle Fieldhouse under head coach Brad Stevens.
LAST OUTING: Butler scored the first six points of the game and never looked back while pulling away to a 68-49 victory over visiting Duquesne. The Bulldogs relied on a staunch defensive effort, which limited Duquesne to 37.3% shooting for the game and 23.8% from beyond the three-point arc. Butler led by 14 points at halftime, 36-22, and stretched that margin to as many as 22 points in the second half. The Dukes, who had topped 80 points five times this year, were held to their lowest conference output of the season.
POINT PERSON: Senior Rotnei Clarke continued his strong surge since returning from a severe neck injury, which sidelined him for three-and-a-half games in January. The 6-0 guard led the Bulldogs in scoring for the eighth straight contest, finishing with a game-high 16 points against Duquesne. Clarke has scored in double-figures 20 times in his 24 games this season, and he's had at least a share of Butler's scoring lead in 18 of those contests. The Arkansas transfer has scored 20 or more points nine times this season and 21 times during his collegiate career.
Rotnei Clarke has averaged 18.9 points since returning from his neck injury.
HIGH POWERED: Junior Khyle Marshall, who hadn't scored more than seven points in Butler's previous three games, exploded for nine points in the first five minutes of the second half against Duquesne. His outburst took the Bulldogs from a 36-22 halftime lead to a 47-27 advantage with just under 15 minutes remaining. The 6-6 Butler forward wound up hitting six of nine shots in the game and finished with 14 point in 23 minutes of action. It was his highest point total since late January, when he scored 19 points in Butler's victory over Temple.
STRONG RETURN: Center Andrew Smith, led all players with 10 rebounds, while adding eight points in 29 minutes against Duquesne. Smith has had 20 points and 12 rebounds in his two games since returning from an injury that sidelined him against Charlotte.
SMART CHOICE: Senior Andrew Smith continued a remarkable stretch at Butler when he was named to the 2013 Capital One Academic All-America Team on Thursday (Feb. 21). An honor student majoring in finance, Smith became the sixth Butler player since 2007 to earn Academic All-America recognition. Butler has had one or more players named to the Academic All-America Team in each of the past seven seasons, including three-time Academic All-American and 2011 Academic All-American of the Year Matt Howard.
QUICK START: Butler head coach Brad Stevens has moved into a tie with Everett Case (North Carolina State, 1947-52) for second place on the NCAA Division I list for Best Career Coaching Starts By Wins, 6 Seasons. The Bulldogs' coach, who boasts a 161-45 record, trails current leader Jamie Dixon (Pittsburgh, 2004-09) by two wins. Stevens holds the NCAA three-year (89), four-year (117) and five-year (139) records, and he's second on the two-year (56) list.
POPULAR ATTRACTION: Butler's game against Saint Louis is the Bulldogs' fourth home sellout this season, and the team's tenth capacity crowd (home and away) in the past 13 games. Overall, it's the Bulldogs' 14th sellout crowd this season. Butler's future home game against Xavier is already sold out, which sets a Butler record for most home sellouts (5) in a single season.
•Seniors Andrew Smith, Chase Stigall and Emerson Kampen stand fourth on Butler's list for Most Senior Class Wins with a four-year record of 105-35.
•Andrew Smith became the 34th Butler player to score 1,000 career points in the Bulldogs' victory over Rhode Island. He currently stands 31st on Butler's all-time scoring list with 1,044 career points.
•Andrew Smith ranks 12th in the A-10 in field goal percentage (.518). Smith's career shooting percentage of .539 ranks ties him for 10th place all-time at Butler.
•Andrew Smith pulled down a career-high 10 defensive rebounds against Duquesne.
•Senior Rotnei Clarke ranks fourth in the Atlantic 10 Conference in scoring (17.1). He's second in the league's conference games only scoring (18.4).
•Rotnei Clarke leads the A-10 and ranks 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 a game 14 times this season.
•Rotnei Clarke ranks fifth in the A-10 and 24th in Division I in three-point field goal percentage (.431).
•Rotnei Clarke currently ranks third in the A-10 in free throw shooting (.881). Clarke has made his last 15 free throw attempts.
•Rotnei Clarke is shooting .923 from the free throw line against conference opponents and ranks second in the league in A-10 games only.
•Rotnei Clarke ranks eighth on Butler's single season list for three-point field goals with 88. A. J. Graves (2007-08) is seventh with 95, while Bruce Horan (2003-04) is sixth with 96.
•Butler is 14-0 this season when junior Khyle Marshall scores in double-figures.
•Khyle Marshall ranks fourth in the A-10 in field goal percentage (.551).
•Sophomore Roosevelt Jones led the Bulldogs with five assists against Duquesne. It was the 16th time this season that he's had at least a share of the team lead in assists.
•Sophomore Alex Barlow matched his career scoring (6) and rebounding (7) highs in Butler's win over Duquesne.
•Freshman Kellen Dunham came off the bench and scored 11 points in 16 minutes against Duquesne. It was the fewest minutes he's played in a game this season.
•Kellen Dunham ranks fourth in the A-10 free throw shooting (.877).
•Kellen Dunham is shooting 93% (40-43) from the free throw line in Hinkle Fieldhouse.
•Butler is ranked first in the Atlantic 10 Conference and 14th in the NCAA Division I in team rebounding margin (+7.3). The Bulldogs have out-rebounded 10 of their last 11 opponents and 23 foes on the season.
•Butler is 60-7 under head coach Brad Stevens when hitting at least nine three-point field goals in a game.
•Butler is 8-1 against A-10 foes when playing at full strength. Leading scorer Rotnei Clarke missed Butler's game at La Salle, while second-leading scorer Andrew Smith missed the Charlotte game.
•The Bulldogs need one victory to move into a tie for tenth place on Butler's single season chart for wins.
•Butler has beaten two of the top three teams in this week's Associated Press national poll (#1 Indiana and #3 Gonzaga).