No. 9 Butler Hosts First-Time Foe Temple
FIRST LOOK: Historic Hinkle Fieldhouse will host a storied men's basketball program when Temple plays Butler for the first time on Saturday, Jan. 26. The game between the two Atlantic 10 Conference foes will start at 6 p.m. (ET) and will be nationally-televised on ESPN2. Temple is the sixth on the NCAA Division I all-time list for victories with over 1,800 wins in the program's history. Only Kentucky, Kansas, North Carolina, Duke and Syracuse have more all-time wins. The Owls (13-5, 2-2 A-10) have won at least 20 games in five straight seasons and have made five consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances. Head coach Fran Dunphy's club won the A-10 regular season title a year ago. Temple has won three of its last four outings, including a 76-69 victory over Penn in a non-conference contest on Wednesday (Jan. 23). Butler (16-3, 3-1 A-10), ranked ninth nationally in both the A.P. and Coaches' polls, had a 13-game winning streak snapped when it dropped a 54-53 decision on a last-second shot at La Salle on Wednesday. It was Butler's first loss in 2013, and the Bulldogs' first A-10 setback. The loss came just four days after Butler had beaten No. 8 Gonzaga in a nationally-televised game on Saturday (Jan. 19).
Butler is 33-10 following a loss under head coach Brad Stevens.
POLL WATCH: Butler is ranked in the "Top 10" of both the Associated Press national poll and the USA Today Coaches Poll for the first time since Feb. 8, 2008. The Bulldogs are No. 9 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 is ranked in the national "Top 25" for the sixth consecutive week.
HOME SHOW: The Bulldogs, who are 9-0 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 174-25 at home since the start of the 1999-2000 season. Butler's current seniors are 49-8 in Hinkle Fieldhouse.
Butler is 78-11 in Hinkle Fieldhouse under head coach Brad Stevens.
PHOTO FINISH: The Bulldogs have had two straight games decided on the final shot. Butler upended No. 8 Gonzaga, 64-63, when forward Roosevelt Jones stole an in-bounds pass at midcourt with four seconds remaining, drove toward the Butler basket and lofted a "floater" from 10-feet out that curled in the net as the final buzzer sounded. Four nights later, it was La Salle's Ramon Galloway driving the length of the floor and scoring on a lay-up with two seconds remaining to edge Butler, 54-53. The Bulldogs, who led most of the first half and the first 10 minutes of the second half, had to come-from-behind in the closing minutes at La Salle. Senior Andrew Smith gave Butler the lead twice with baskets in the final minute, the last putting the Bulldogs on top, 53-52, with eight seconds remaining. But Galloway answered Butler's final score, and La Salle handed the Bulldogs' their first conference setback.
LEADING MAN: Center Andrew Smith continued a strong conference surge with a team-high 16 points and a game-high eight rebounds at La Salle. The 6-11 center scored Butler's final 11 points in the game, including two baskets that gave Butler the lead in the final minute. He hit seven of 10 shots against the Explorers, and added two assists, a blocked shot and a steal. In Butler's four A-10 games, Smith has averaged 17.0 points and 7.3 rebounds, while shooting 61% from the field.
HEALTH UPDATE: Butler scoring leader Rotnei Clarke, who suffered a game-ending injury in the first half of Butler's win at Dayton, has missed Butler's last three games. The 6-0 senior crashed into the basket support at Dayton after being fouled while attempting a lay-up, and he was diagnosed with a severely sprained neck. He has been cleared to begin practicing, and he could play against Temple. Clarke 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 has scored 20 or more points six times this season and 18 times during his collegiate career.
FRESH LIFT: Freshman Kellen Dunham was inserted into Butler's starting lineup when scoring leader Rotnei Clarke was sidelined by a neck injury, and the first-year guard has delivered three consecutive double-figures' scoring performances. Dunham tallied 11 points in Butler's win over Richmond, and then he posted 14 points in the victory over Gonzaga. At La Salle, he connected on three of four three-point field goal attempts and finished with 15 points. Dunham has scored 10 or more points in seven of Butler's last nine games.
AWARDS SHOW: Sophomore Roosevelt Jones put together back-to-back stellar performances in Butler wins, and his efforts earned him Atlantic 10 Conference Co-Player of the Week honors for the week of Jan. 14-20. The 6-4 sophomore from O'Fallon, Ill., began the week by recording his second double-double of the season with 10 points and a game-high 12 rebounds to lead Butler past A-10 foe Richmond, 62-47. Then, he scored a team-high 20 points, including the game-winner at the buzzer, to lift Butler past No. 8 Gonzaga. Jones, who earned the A-10 honor for the second time this season, averaged 15.0 points and 8.5 rebounds for the week, while adding eight assists and four steals. He also was named USBWA Oscar Robertson National Player of the Week, ESPN.com Player of the Week and CollegeSportsMadness.com High-Major Player of the Week.
TOP 10: Butler's victory over No. 8 Gonzaga was the school-record third this season against a team ranked in the "Top 10." The Bulldogs defeated #9 North Carolina at the Maui Invitational and then beat top-ranked Indiana at the Close the Gap Crossroads Classic. Only No. 1 ranked Duke has beaten as many "Top 10" teams this year.
SENIOR WATCH: Seniors Andrew Smith, Chase Stigall and Emerson Kampen need one win to become the fifth Butler class to record 100 victories. Over the past three-and-a-half seasons, the trio has helped Butler to a 99-33 record, including this season's 16-3 mark. Butler's 2002-03 senior class of Darnell Archey, Joel Cornette, Lewis Curry and Mike Moore currently stands fourth on the all-time list with a 100-28 record over four years. The Butler senior class record for wins is 118, set by the 2009-10 class of Willie Veasley and Nick Rodgers.
•Senior Andrew Smith has started 86 of Butler's last 88 games, including both NCAA Final Four games in 2011.
•Andrew Smith ranks third in the A-10 in field goal percentage (.577).
•Andrew Smith stands sixth on Butler's all-time list for field goal percentage (.553).
•Andrew Smith is shooting 62.5% (35-56) from the field in Hinkle Fieldhouse this year.
•Andrew Smith needs 22 points to become the 34th Butler player to score 1,000 career points.
•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 had at least four three-pointers in 10 of Butler's first 16 games.
•Rotnei Clarke ranks sixth in the Atlantic 10 Conference in three-point field goal percentage (.444).
•Rotnei Clarke currently ranks fifth in the A-10 in scoring (16.3).
•Sophomore Roosevelt Jones has had at least a share of the team lead in assists in eight of Butler's last 10 games. He's averaged 4.0 assists over that stretch, including a career-high seven assists against #1 Indiana.
•Roosevelt Jones has scored in double-figures in four consecutive games for the first time in his Butler career.
•Roosevelt Jones is averaging 13.3 points and 6.5 rebounds in Butler's last 10 games.
•Roosevelt Jones has hit 35 of 55 (.636) free throws in Butler's last 10 games. He shot 40% from the free throw line through Butler first nine games.
•Sophomore point-guard Alex Barlow had shared Butler's lead in assists with five at La Salle, one game after posting a career-high six assists in Butler's victory over #8 Gonzaga.
•Alex Barlow played a career-high 34 minutes at La Salle.
•Alex Barlow has had at least one steal in 14 of Butler's last 15 games. He leads the Bulldogs in steals on the season.
•Freshman Kellen Dunham leads the Bulldogs with 13 games of 10 or more points.
•Kellen Dunham played a career-high 37 minutes at La Salle.
•Kellen Dunham leads the A-10 and ranks fifth in the NCAA Division I in free throw shooting (.921).
•Butler is ranked first in the Atlantic 10 Conference and 15th in the NCAA Division I in team rebounding margin (+7.8).
•Butler has six "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, #8 Gonzaga 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.