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Rhode Island vs Butler

No. 9 Butler 75, Rhode Island 68

CBSSports.com wire reports

INDIANAPOLIS -- No. 9 Butler needed a full half of basketball against Rhode Island to shake off its worst performance of the year at Saint Louis and find its top-10 form.

The Bulldogs overcame a poor first half to beat the Rams 75-68 on Saturday after playing their worst game of the season at Saint Louis earlier this week.

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Rotnei Clarke led Butler with 23 points. Roosevelt Jones added 18 points -- 13 in the second half.

Clarke did the bulk of his scoring in the first 11 of minutes of the second half, pacing Butler (18-4, 5-2 Atlantic 10) through a 15-3 run that proved too big of a deficit for the Rams to overcome. Clarke scored 12 points in the swing.

Mostly, Clarke looked like his usual self, after committing a season-high six turnovers in a 75-58 loss against Saint Louis. Since coming back from a neck injury suffered on Jan. 12 at Dayton, Clarke had committed 10 turnovers in the two games.

"Last couple of games I just made careless mistakes with the ball, getting it to guys in the wrong spots," Clarke said. "I've got to just be smarter."

Nikola Maleseciv scored 18 points for Rhode Island (6-14, 1-6) in its fourth straight loss. The Rams held a 32-30 advantage at halftime.

The Rams shot only 30 percent from the field in the second half, keeping themselves in the game at the foul line. They went 21 of 24 from the free throw line in the second period, after only four attempts in the first half.

The Butler lead swelled as far as 67-54 with about 4 1/2 half minutes to play, but the Rams used 11 points on free throws to make things interesting down the stretch.

It was a familiar position for them, as Rhode Island had lost its last three games by a combined 10 points.

"They're a very hard out as you can see," Butler coach Brad Stevens said. "They haven't played a game in league that hasn't been decided by more than four points. They've got skilled guys who can spread you out."

Butler played the opposite game -- sputtering through the first half. Khyle Marshall kept his team in the game with a series of high-flying dunks and hustle plays that produced 10 of the Bulldogs' first 12 points.

"The difference between the second half beginning and the first half ending was we hit shots in the paints that we weren't hitting before," Stevens said.

Butler's season-high 23 turnovers were much to blame for the blowout loss to the Billikens.

"We had different kinds of turnovers today," Stevens said. "Turnovers where we were being aggressive."

Butler played without forward Erik Fromm, a junior, whose father died of cancer earlier in the day.

"It's hard, these guys are really tight," Stevens said. "They know each other's parents and they appreciate all the support they get from each other. It's a really hard thing."

The Rams have dropped four in a row since winning 82-80 in overtime at Saint Louis on Jan. 19. They have now lost 25 straight against top-25 opponents, with their last winning coming against No. 21 Utah on Dec. 2, 1998.

Copyright 2015 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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Rhode Island (6-14)323668
Butler #9 (18-4) «304575
RI:N. Malesevic 18 Pts
RI:N. Malesevic 6 Reb
RI:M. Powell 3 Ast
BUTLER:R. Clarke 23 Pts
BUTLER:R. Jones 6 Reb
BUTLER:R. Jones 4 Ast

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Rhode IslandButler
Nikola Malesevic
Roosevelt Jones
Rhode Island Rams
X. Munford, G373-137-833314
M. Powell, G332-69-1003414
N. Malesevic, F305-107-760418
A. Malone, G282-60-04024
J. Hare, F224-50-03158
T. Buchanan, G242-50-13215
A. Bigby, G-F100-10-00030
M. Aaman, F92-30-02014
R. Brooks, F70-11-21001
E. Youncofski, GDid Not Play
J. Nazarko, FDid Not Play
S. Plunkett, GDid Not Play
Totals 20-5024-282292368
Butler Bulldogs
R. Clarke, G378-132-322323
A. Smith, C341-56-63258
R. Jones, F345-128-864418
K. Marshall, F204-65-630113
A. Barlow, G170-12-24052
K. Dunham, G262-40-03014
K. Woods, F233-61-25227
C. Stigall, G90-00-02100
E. Kampen, CDid Not Play
E. Fromm, FDid Not Play
J. Aldridge, GDid Not Play
A. Smeathers, G-FDid Not Play
E. Kampen, GDid Not Play
D. Morgan, GDid Not Play
Totals 23-4724-2728112175
Atlantic 10
TeamConf. W-LTot. W-LRPI Rank
Geo. Wash.0-06-059
Saint Louis0-04-044
Saint Joes0-04-199
La Salle0-03-1129
St. Bona.0-03-177
Rhode Island0-03-2142
George Mason0-02-4210

Big East
TeamConf. W-LTot. W-LRPI Rank
Seton Hall0-04-1161
St. Johns0-04-2166
Other games
CINCY 65 Final
SHU 59
SYR 55 Final
AUB 77 Final
DUKE 79 Final
FSU 60
SDSU 67 Final
AF 70
BRAD 58 Final
OKST 85 Final
KAN 80
UM 79 Final
WICH 52 Final
ORE 54 Final
CAL 58
KSU 52 Final
OHST 63 Final
NEB 56
MISS 64 Final
FLA 78
NEV 62 Final
MICH 73 Final
IND 81
ARIZ 79 Final
WSU 65
GONZ 65 Final
USD 63