#20/21 Butler Visits #25 VCU For Nationally-Televised Test
FEATURE SHOW: Butler's challenging closing stretch continues when the nationally-ranked Bulldogs visit #25 VCU for the first time on Saturday, March 2. The Atlantic 10 Conference showdown between two of the top four teams in the league will start at noon (ET) at VCU's Verizon Wireless Arena and will be televised nationally on ESPN2. Butler, coming off a four-point loss to league-leading Saint Louis, will be playing on the home floor of a nationally-ranked team for the first time since Dec. 23, 2008, when the Bulldogs won at No. 14 Xavier, 74-65. The Bulldogs are 1-1 against "Top 25" teams on the road under head coach Brad Stevens. Butler's loss to Saint Louis dropped the 22-6 Bulldogs to 9-4 in the A-10 and into a third place tie with La Salle in the conference standings. VCU, owning sole possession of second place in the league standings, improved to 22-6 on the year and 10-3 in conference play with a 75-71 victory at Xavier in its last outing. Following the road test at VCU, Butler will visit Massachusetts on Thursday, March 7, before closing out the regular season at home against Xavier on Saturday, March 9.
Butler is 3-0 against teams ranked in the "Top 25" this season.
POLLING DATA: Butler is ranked No. 20 in this week's Associated Press national poll and No. 21 in the USA Today Coaches' Poll this week. It's the first time in seven weeks that the Bulldogs have been ranked outside of the "Top 15" of both national polls. Butler's victory over No. 1 Indiana on Dec. 15 vaulted the Bulldogs into the "Top 25" of both national polls for the first time since November of 2010. The Bulldogs joined the A.P. "Top 25" at No. 19 and the Coaches Poll at No. 25.
Butler is ranked in the national "Top 25" for the eleventh consecutive week.
LAST OUTING: Visiting Saint Louis shot 52% in the second half and overcame a five-point halftime deficit to defeat Butler, 65-61, in a first place showdown in front of a sellout crowd of 10,000 at Hinkle Fieldhouse. The Billikens, who hit 13 of 25 shots in the final 20 minutes, opened the second half with a 19-7 run to erase a 34-29 deficit and grab a 48-41 lead. That opening burst proved to be decisive. Butler did cut the lead to one on two occasions late in the game and trailed, 63-61, after a free throw by Roosevelt Jones with 0:27 left. But Mike McCall Jr. of Saint Louis hit a pair of free throws with 0:19 remaining to seal the outcome.
NAISMITH FINALIST: Senior Rotnei Clarke has been named one of the Top 30 Candidates for the 2013 Naismith Men's College Player of the Year Award. The 6-0 guard, who leads the Bulldogs in scoring, was among the finalists selected by the Atlanta Tipoff Club's Board of Selectors. Clarke has scored in double-figures in 21 of his 25 games this season, and he's had at least a share of Butler's scoring lead in 18 of those contests. The Arkansas transfer has scored 20 or more points nine times this year, including a season-high 28 points at Saint Joseph's, and 21 times during his collegiate career. The winner of this year's Naismith award will be announced on April 7 in Atlanta.
SCORING STREAK: Rotnei Clarke, who had 13 points in Butler's home loss to Saint Louis, has scored in double-figures in nine straight games, since returning from a neck injury that sidelined him for three-and-a-half games. Earlier this season, he had a streak of 10 consecutive games in double-figures, the longest streak by a Butler player in 2012-13. Clarke also has led the Bulldogs with 33 assists over that nine-game stretch.
Rotnei Clarke has averaged 18.2 points since returning from his neck injury.
FRESH LIFT: Freshman Kellen Dunham came off the bench to lead the Bulldogs with 14 points, all in the first half, against Saint Louis. It was the fifth time this season that he's had at least a share of Butler's scoring lead. Dunham currently ranks third among freshmen in the Atlantic 10 Conference in scoring with a 10.6 average.
ACTIVE EFFORT: Sophomore Roosevelt Jones turned in an enviable stat line in Butler's game against Saint Louis. The 6-4 forward scored 13 points, grabbed six rebounds, handed off a team-high three assists, recorded a career-high four blocked shots and added one steal in 33 minutes of action. It wasn't an aberration. Jones, who also is one of the A-10's top individual defenders, leads the Bulldogs in rebounds and assists, while ranking second on the team in steals and blocked shots. He's tied for third on the squad in scoring.
QUICK START: Butler head coach Brad Stevens stands in a tie with Everett Case (North Carolina State, 1947-52) for second place on the NCAA Division I list for Best Career Coaching Starts By Wins, 6 Seasons. The Bulldogs' coach, who boasts a 161-46 record, trails current leader Jamie Dixon (Pittsburgh, 2004-09) by two wins. Stevens holds the NCAA three-year (89), four-year (117) and five-year (139) records, and he's second on the two-year (56) list.
POPULAR ATTRACTION: Butler's game against VCU is the Bulldogs' seventh consecutive Atlantic 10 Conference road sellout. Butler has played in front of capacity crowds (home and away) in 11 of the past 14 games and in 15 games overall this season. Butler's future home game against Xavier is already sold out, which sets a Butler record for most home sellouts (5) in a single season.
TOP TWENTY: The 2012-13 Bulldogs became the 19th Butler team to record 20 victories in a season with their win at George Washington on Feb. 9. Butler has won at least 20 games in eight consecutive seasons and in 15 of the past 17 campaigns. This year's team is tied for 12th on Butler's single season wins chart with 22 victories.
•Seniors Andrew Smith, Chase Stigall and Emerson Kampen stand fourth on Butler's list for Most Senior Class Wins with a four-year record of 105-36.
•Andrew Smith became the 34th Butler player to score 1,000 career points in the Bulldogs' victory over Rhode Island. He currently stands 31st on Butler's all-time scoring list with 1,053 career points.
•Andrew Smith ranks 12th in the A-10 in field goal percentage (.518). Smith's career shooting percentage of .538 ranks him 11th all-time at Butler.
•Andrew Smith led all players with nine rebounds against Saint Louis. His effort came one game after he grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds against Duquesne.
•Senior Rotnei Clarke grabbed a career-high seven rebounds against Saint Louis.
•Rotnei Clarke ranks fourth in the Atlantic 10 Conference in scoring (17.0). He's second in scoring in league games only (17.9).
•Rotnei Clarke leads the A-10 and ranks sixth in the NCAA Division I in three-point field goals made per game (3.64). Clarke has had at least four three-pointers in a game 14 times this season.
•Rotnei Clarke has hit a 3-point field goal in each game that he's played this season.
•Rotnei Clarke ranks third in the A-10 and 20th in Division I in three-point field goal percentage (.433).
•Rotnei Clarke currently ranks third in the A-10 in free throw shooting (.881). Clarke has made his last 15 free throw attempts.
•Rotnei Clarke is leading the league in free throw shooting in A-10 games only with a .923 mark against conference opponents.
•Rotnei Clarke ranks eighth on Butler's single season list for three-point field goals with 91. A. J. Graves (2007-08) is seventh with 95, while Bruce Horan (2003-04) is sixth with 96.
•Butler is 14-0 this season when junior Khyle Marshall scores in double-figures.
•Khyle Marshall ranks sixth in the A-10 in field goal percentage (.550).
•Sophomore Roosevelt Jones led the Bulldogs in assists in back-to-back games last week. It was the 16th and 17th times this season that he's had at least a share of the team lead in assists.
•Freshman Kellen Dunham, who hit all four of his free throw attempts against Saint Louis, ranks second in the A-10 free throw shooting (.882).
•Butler is ranked first in the Atlantic 10 Conference and 12th in the NCAA Division I in team rebounding margin (+7.4). The Bulldogs have out-rebounded 11 of their last 12 opponents and 24 foes on the season.
•Butler is 60-7 under head coach Brad Stevens when hitting at least nine three-point field goals in a game.
•Butler has only lost to one team (Saint Louis) since the Maui Invitational when fielding a full squad. Leading scorer Rotnei Clarke missed Butler's game at La Salle, while second-leading scorer Andrew Smith missed the Charlotte contest.
•The Bulldogs need one victory to move into a tie for tenth place on Butler's single season chart for wins.
•Butler has beaten the top two teams in this week's national polls (#1 Indiana and #2 Gonzaga).
•The Bulldogs are 12-12 under Brad Stevens against teams ranked in the "Top 25."