Butler Faces Former Conference Foe In New Conference
CONFERENCE RERUN: It's been nearly two decades since Butler last faced Dayton in a conference game, but that drought will end on Saturday, Jan. 12. The Bulldogs, who joined the Atlantic 10 Conference this year, will meet Dayton at UD Arena in a 2 p.m. (ET) conference contest that will be televised by NBC Sports Network. Butler and Dayton were conference foes for five seasons in the Midwestern Collegiate Conference. The last meeting between the two schools was in February of 1993, just before the Flyers left the MCC to join the Atlantic 10 Conference. Butler and Dayton have continued to be football opponents in the Pioneer Football League. The Bulldogs (13-2, 1-0 A-10) successfully passed their first A-10 test with a 72-66 victory at conference preseason favorite Saint Joseph's on Wednesday (Jan. 9) to begin the current two-game road trip. Dayton (10-5, 0-1 A-10) dropped its conference opener at VCU, 74-62, on Wednesday. The Flyers are 7-2 at UD Arena this season, including wins in their past two home games. Following the Dayton contest, Butler will play its first A-10 home game on Jan. 16 against Richmond.
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 the Dayton game with a 10-game winning streak. That stretch includes six home decisions, three road victories and a neutral court win over top-ranked Indiana. It's the fourth time since Brad Stevens took over as Butler's head coach that the Bulldogs have had a winning streak of at least 10 games.
The Bulldogs have tied the eighth-longest winning streak in school history.
INAUGURAL EVENT: Butler made the most of its first Atlantic 10 Conference basketball game with a come-from-behind victory at preseason conference favorite Saint Joseph's. The Bulldogs trailed, 40-35, at halftime and 56-52 with 9:17 remaining, before grabbing the lead with a 9-0 run, sparked by five points from senior guard Rotnei Clarke. Saint Joseph's closed to within two points on four occasions in the final six minutes, but the Bulldogs held off each challenge and finished the game with four consecutive free throws for their biggest lead of the night. Butler held Saint Joseph's without a field goal for a nine-minute stretch of the second half, while mounting its comeback. The Hawks, who hit eight of 13 three-point field goal attempts in the first half, managed just two three-pointers and seven total field goals in the final 20 minutes. It was Butler's third road victory of the season.
FAMILIAR ROLE: Butler scoring leader Rotnei Clarke was held below ten points in back-to-back games for only the fourth time in his collegiate career, just prior to the start of Atlantic 10 Conference play. He ended that brief drought in resounding fashion in the Bulldogs' conference-opener at Saint Joseph's. The 6-0 guard hit six of 10 shots from beyond the three-point arc and finished with a Butler career-high 28 points to lead the Bulldogs past their first A-10 foe. He scored 15 points in the second half to help Butler erase a five-point, halftime deficit. Clarke has scored in double-figures 12 times in Butler's 15 games this season, and he's had at least a share of Butler's scoring lead in 10 of the Bulldogs' first 15 games. The Arkansas transfer has scored 20 or more points six times this season and 18 times during his collegiate career.
Rotnei Clarke ranks third in the Atlantic 10 Conference in scoring (17.0 ppg).
DOUBLE TIME: Senior Andrew Smith recorded his second double-double of the season and the sixth of his Butler career with 24 points and 10 rebounds at Saint Joseph's. Smith tallied 14 points and pulled down six rebounds in the final 20 minutes to help Butler secure the victory. The 6-11 center hit eight of 15 shots, including one of two from three-point range, and all seven of his free throw attempts against the Hawks. The 24 points and 10 rebounds matched his season-highs, both set in a victory at Northwestern in December. Smith had not had a double-figures scoring performance in Butler's previous three games.
HOMECOMING: While most of Butler's players are getting their introduction to Atlantic 10 Conference basketball, sophomore Alex Barlow is already quite familiar the conference teams and the level of league play. Barlow, from Springboro, Ohio, has attended numerous games at UD Arena, where his family holds Dayton season tickets. He began attending Dayton games at age five and has seen more than twice as many Dayton games as Butler games.
SHARP-SHOOTERS: Butler boasts three of the top 12 field goal shooters in the Atlantic 10 Conference, including two of the top six. Junior Khyle Marshall, who hit four of seven shots at Saint Joseph's, leads the Bulldogs and ranks fourth in the A-10 with a .563 field goal percentage, while senior Andrew Smith stands second on the team and sixth in the conference at .559. Sophomore Roosevelt Jones ranks 12th in the A-10 at .528. Sophomore Kameron Woods is shooting .543 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 .459 team shooting percentage.
•Senior Andrew Smith has started 82 of Butler's last 84 games, including both NCAA Final Four games in 2011.
•Andrew Smith is shooting 62.2% during Butler's current winning streak.
•Andrew Smith stands sixth on Butler's all-time list for field goal percentage (.548).
•Andrew Smith has averaged 14.2 points and 6.0 rebounds during Butler's current winning streak.
•Butler is 9-0 this season when Andrew Smith scores in double-figures.
•Andrew Smith needs 73 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 game at Dayton with 512 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 (3.9). Clarke has had at least four three-pointers in 10 of Butler's first 15 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 27 collegiate games, dating back to his final season at Arkansas.
•Rotnei Clarke ranks eighth in the Atlantic 10 Conference in three-point field goal percentage (.443).
•Rotnei Clarke has scored in double-figures in 11 of Butler's last 13 games.
•Rotnei Clarke matched his career-high with six rebounds at Saint Joseph's. He also matched his Butler career-high with four assists against the Hawks.
•Rotnei Clarke attempted a career-high 22 shots in Butler's win at Saint Joseph's.
•Senior Chase Stigall needs one three 3-point field goal to reach 100 for his career.
•Junior Khyle Marshall is averaging 10.1 points and 5.8 rebounds over Butler's current winning streak.
•Sophomore Roosevelt Jones has led the Bulldogs in assists in five of the team's past six games and in 10 total games on the season. He had a game-high six assists at Saint Joseph's.
•Roosevelt Jones is averaging 10.5 points in Butler's last 10 games.
•Sophomore Alex Barlow matched his career-high with three steals at Saint Joseph's. He's had at least one steal in 10 consecutive games.
•Alex Barlow matched his career-high with four assists at Saint Joseph's.
•Freshman Kellen Dunham is averaging 10.6 points over Butler's last 10 games.
•Kellen Dunham leads the A-10 and ranks third in the NCAA Division I in free throw shooting (.942).
•Butler continues to lead the Atlantic 10 Conference in team rebounding margin (+8.3).
•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 58-6 under head coach Brad Stevens when hitting at least nine three-point field goals in a game.