Duquesne vs Butler

After slow start, No. 15 Butler pulls away from Duquesne


INDIANAPOLIS -- Butler is getting back to full strength, and it shows all over the court.

Rontei Clarke is pulling defenders outside, Andrew Smith is exploiting them inside and Roosevelt Jones is opening things up for his teammates.

Clarke scored 16 points, Khyle Marshall had 14 and Smith just missed a double-double as No. 15 Butler beat Duquesne 68-49 on Tuesday night.

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"I thought our guys were ready, I thought our guys played hard and I thought our guys played well," coach Brad Stevens said. "Our guys really locked in defensively and I thought we played at a much better pace."

Butler (22-5, 9-3 Atlantic 10) needed a game like this after dealing with so many close calls -- and so many injuries -- over the past month.

Clarke went down in a frightening collision with the basket support at Dayton on Jan. 12. The Bulldogs rallied without their leading scorer, beating the Flyers and winning two of the next three games Clarke missed. He has been scoring nearly 20 points per game since returning and against Duquesne, he managed to score eight second-half points despite taking only two shots over the final 20 minutes.

On Feb. 6 at St. Bonaventure, Jones, who beat Gonzaga with a late steal and a buzzer-beating floater, went down with a shoulder injury. He's been wearing a brace ever since and had posted three consecutive double-figure games heading into Tuesday. He didn't hit that number against the Dukes, but he still finished with good numbers: Six points, eight rebounds and five assists.

Last week, the Bulldogs lost their only home game of the season with Smith on the bench with an abdominal injury. On Tuesday, he was back to his old self, scoring eight points, grabbing 10 rebounds and delivering assists on Butler's first two baskets.

And now that Butler has everybody reasonably healthy heading into the season's final stretch, the defense has becoming almost impenetrable, too.

"That's one of the best defensive teams I think I've seen in a while," Dukes coach Jim Ferry said. "They force you outside, they contest shots and you don't sniff an offensive rebound."

For the Bulldogs, it wasn't a perfect night by any stretch.

Without their usually crisp passing early, Butler's shooters struggled.

But when they warmed up, Duquesne (8-18, 1-11) never had a chance.

Butler has now won five of its last six, improved to 13-1 at home and managed to keep pace with Virginia Commonwealth and St. Louis, the two teams ahead of it in the regular-season race. The victory margin matched the Bulldogs' second-largest of the season, behind only the 32-point win it had over crosstown rival IUPUI.

"I think collectively, we're guarding better now," Marshall said when asked what's improved. "We held another great 3-point shooting team to 49 points, so that's great."

Duquesne got few looks over the final 30 minutes.

Derrick Colter was the only player to reach double figures, scoring 11 points. Jerry Jones, who finished with nine points and made four shots, and Kadeem Pantophlet and Sean Johnson, who each had seven points and three baskets, were the only other Dukes players with more than two baskets. They finished the night shooting just 37.3 percent from the field and were 5 of 21 on 3-pointers.

No Duquesne player had more than five rebounds or three assists, either.

So, predictably, the Dukes wound up losing for the 15th time in 17 games and with their third-lowest point total of the season.

"It's two teams at very different level," Ferry said. "We have to learn from this so we can get better the next couple of years."

At first, it didn't look like it would be this easy.

But the Bulldogs turned a 15-12 lead into a 20-12 advantage when Clarke hit a 3-pointer and followed that with a 15-foot floater. Kellen Dunham scored the next eight for Butler, six coming on a pair of 3-pointers, and the lead increased to 28-17. Alex Barlow and Smith followed that barrage with two more 3s in the final 98 seconds of the first half, sending Butler to the locker room with a 36-22 lead.

That was all Butler needed to turn this game into a rout.

Marshall opened the second half by scoring nine points in Butler's 13-7 run, which pushed the lead to 49-29, and Duquesne never got closer than 15 the rest of the way.

"Everybody's healthy, everybody's playing and that's good," said Steven, whose 161st career victory tied North Carolina State's Everett Case for the second-most victories by a coach in his first six seasons. "I think we did a pretty good job thru the injuries and what I prefer to call the curveballs. ... I'm proud of what this team has accomplished up to this point, but by no means are we satisfied."

Copyright 2018 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.
Butler's Rotnei Clarke leads all players with 16 points, and reaches double figures for the 20th time this season.  (US Presswire)
Butler's Rotnei Clarke leads all players with 16 points, and reaches double figures for the 20th time this season. (US Presswire)
Duquesne (8-18)222749
Butler #15 (22-5) «363268
DUQ:D. Colter 11 Pts
DUQ:J. Jones 5 Reb
DUQ:S. Johnson 3 Ast
BUTLER:R. Clarke 16 Pts
BUTLER:A. Smith 10 Reb
BUTLER:R. Jones 5 Ast

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Derrick Colter
Andrew Smith
Duquesne Dukes
D. Colter, G364-110-022311
J. Jones, G304-70-05019
J. Jones, G-F252-75-64129
A. Marhold, F-C151-50-01032
Q. Winters, F131-30-04022
K. Pantophlet, F303-70-02107
S. Johnson, G233-71-22327
M. Datt, F161-30-04112
M. Binney, G120-10-02010
O. Soko, FDid Not Play
D. Martin, F-CDid Not Play
M. Abele, CDid Not Play
P. Torres, GDid Not Play
S. Bott, G-FDid Not Play
N. Foschia, FDid Not Play
C. Johnston, GDid Not Play
Totals 19-516-82681549
Butler Bulldogs
R. Clarke, G355-112-211016
R. Jones, F303-70-08516
A. Smith, C291-95-610208
A. Barlow, G292-50-07336
K. Marshall, F236-92-421114
K. Woods, F223-50-04316
K. Dunham, G164-80-020111
C. Stigall, G70-00-00000
E. Fromm, F40-00-00000
E. Kampen, C10-00-00000
J. Aldridge, G10-00-00010
A. Smeathers, G-F10-01-20001
E. Kampen, G10-00-00000
D. Morgan, G10-10-00010
Totals 24-5510-143415968
Atlantic 10
TeamConf. W-LTot. W-LRPI Rank
Rhode Island6-014-311
George Mason3-39-10197
Saint Josephs3-38-9177
St. Bona.2-312-541
Geo. Wash.2-49-10194
Saint Louis2-49-10180
La Salle2-48-11162

Big East
TeamConf. W-LTot. W-LRPI Rank
Seton Hall4-215-413
St. Johns0-710-970
Other games
IND 72 Final
MU 67 Final
VCU 62 Final
STL 76
UVA 50 Final
FLA 60 Final