No. 13 Butler Hosts No. 8 Gonzaga On College GameDay
FEATURE GAME: Butler will step out of conference play and take center stage under the spotlight when it hosts No. 8 Gonzaga on Saturday (Jan. 19). The 9 p.m. (ET) game at Hinkle Fieldhouse is the kickoff contest for ESPN's eight-week College GameDay schedule. Gonzaga (16-1), making its first appearance in Hinkle Fieldhouse, is the third "Top 10" team to visit Butler's homecourt in the past 14 months. Butler hosted both #7 Louisville and #8 Xavier last season. And Gonzaga is the third "Top 10" team Butler has faced this season. Butler defeated No. 9 North Carolina at the Maui Invitational and then beat No. 1 Indiana at the Crossroads Classic in Indianapolis. Gonzaga began its current two-game road trip with a 71-49 victory at Portland on Thursday (Jan. 17). It was the eighth consecutive win for Coach Mark Few's team. Butler, ranked No. 13 this week, picked up its 12th straight win and improved to 15-2 on the season with a 62-47 home victory over Richmond on Wednesday (Jan. 16). It was the first Atlantic 10 Conference game played in Hinkle Fieldhouse.
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 fifth consecutive week. The Bulldogs are No. 13 this week in both the A.P. poll and in the coaches poll. Butler's victory over No. 1 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.
SUCCESS STREAK: The Bulldogs, unbeaten since returning from Hawaii in late November, enter the Gonzaga game with a 12-game winning streak. That stretch includes seven home decisions, four 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 11 or more games.
The Bulldogs have the sixth-longest winning streak in school history.
HOMEWORK: The Bulldogs, who are 8-0 in Hinkle Fieldhouse this season, have won at least 10 home games in each of the past 17 years. Butler was 13-6 in the Fieldhouse a year ago, and the Bulldogs are 173-25 at home since the start of the 1999-2000 season. Butler's current seniors are 48-8 in Hinkle Fieldhouse.
Butler is 77-11 in Hinkle Fieldhouse under head coach Brad Stevens.
SUCCESSFUL START: Butler passed its first Atlantic 10 Conference home test, despite playing the game without leading scorer Rotnei Clarke. With Clarke sidelined by a neck injury, the Bulldogs rallied behind a staunch defensive effort and a balanced offensive attack to hand Richmond a 15-point setback, 62-47. The 47 points were a season-low for the visiting Spiders, who shot just 32.7% for the game. Butler broke an 8-8 tie with a 7-0 run early in the first half and then stretched the lead to 12 points, 33-21, at halftime. The visitors, who trailed by 20 points midway through the final period, did battle back and trimmed the lead to nine points with 8:23 remaining, but the Bulldogs held off the challenge and closed out their third A-10 victory.
INSIDE APPROACH: Senior center Andrew Smith scored a game-high 15 points and sophomore forward Roosevelt Jones added his second double-double of the season to fuel Butler's effort against Richmond. Smith hit six of nine shots from the floor and three of five from the free throw line, while scoring in double-figures for the third consecutive game. The 6-11 Smith also pulled down seven rebounds, including four offensive boards. Jones led both teams and matched his career-high with 12 rebounds, including six on the offensive end. He also posted 10 points, four assists and a game-high three steals. The two Butler players were one shy of Richmond's team total for rebounds.
BOARD GAME: Butler's victory over Richmond can be quickly traced to one key statistic - rebounding. The Bulldogs pulled down a season-high 53 rebounds, including 20 offensive boards, and had a +33 rebounding advantage over the visitors. Butler's work on the offensive glass led to a 21-6 advantage in second chance points. The 53 rebounds were the most by a Butler team against a Division I foe in nearly two decades.
Butler leads the Atlantic 10 Conference in rebounding margin (+8.4).
MISSING LEADER: Butler scoring leader Rotnei Clarke suffered a game-ending injury in the first half at Dayton, when he crashed into the basket standard after being fouled while attempting a lay-up. He was taken from the court on a stretcher and later, was diagnosed with a severely sprained neck. His status is being evaluated day-to-day. The 6-0 guard scored in double-figures 12 times in Butler's first 16 games this season, and he had at least a share of Butler's scoring lead in 10 of those contests. The Arkansas transfer, who scored a Butler career-high 28 points while leading the Bulldogs past Saint Joseph's in the A-10 opener for both teams, 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 (16.3 ppg).
LEAGUE RECOGNITION: Senior Andrew Smith, who averaged 18.5 points and 7.0 rebounds in Butler's two A-10 road wins last week, was named Atlantic 10 Conference Player of the Week on Monday (Jan. 14). 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,and then he posted 13 points, four rebounds, four assists and a blocked shot in Butler's win at Dayton. Smith is the third Butler player to earn A-10 Player of the Week honors, joining teammates Rotnei Clarke (Nov. 19) and Roosevelt Jones (Dec. 17).
•The Gonzaga contest is the first Butler game in Hinkle Fieldhouse matching two "Top 15" teams.
•Senior Andrew Smith has started 84 of Butler's last 86 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 (.550).
•Andrew Smith has averaged 14.2 points and 5.9 rebounds during Butler's current winning streak.
•Butler is 11-0 this season when Andrew Smith scores in double-figures.
•Andrew Smith needs 45 points to become the 34th Butler player to score 1,000 career points.
•Andrew Smith was not in the starting lineup against Gonzaga last year, and he finished the game with just two points in 21 minutes.
•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 10 of Butler's first 16 games.
•Rotnei Clarke ranks fourth in the Atlantic 10 Conference in three-point field goal percentage (.444).
•Junior Eric Fromm was given his first collegiate start in last year's game at Gonzaga. He led the Bulldogs with a career-high 16 points in the game.
•Junior Khyle Marshall was one of two Butler players to score in double-figures last year at Gonzaga. He hit five of nine shots and finished with 10 points in 20 minutes.
•Sophomore Roosevelt Jones has had at least a share of the team lead in assists in seven of Butler's last eight games.
•Roosevelt Jones is averaging 10.9 points and 6.1 rebounds in Butler's last 12 games.
•Roosevelt Jones has hit 27 of 42 (.643) free throws in Butler's last eight games. He shot 40% from the free throw line through Butler first nine games.
•Sophomore point-guard Alex Barlow had five points, five rebounds and matched his career-high with four assists in a career-high 33 minutes against Richmond. He also had Butler's lone blocked shot in the game.
•Sophomore Kameron Woods came off the bench with eight points and seven rebounds in 19 minutes of action against Richmond.
•Freshman Kellen Dunham is averaging 10.4 points over Butler's last 12 games.
•Kellen Dunham leads the A-10 and ranks third in the NCAA Division I in free throw shooting (.933). He's shooting .943 (33-35) from the line in Hinkle Fieldhouse.
•Butler has won its last 17 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.