Butler breaks out of shooting slump with rout of Duquesne
INDIANAPOLIS -- Finally, Butler played the kind of complete basketball game it has become known for.
Rotnei Clarke scored 16 points to help the 15th-ranked Bulldogs defeat Duquesne 68-49 on Tuesday night.
Khyle Marshall scored 14 points, Kellen Dunham added 11 and Andrew Smith had eight points and 10 rebounds for the Bulldogs (22-5, 9-3 Atlantic Ten).
The Bulldogs had won five of six, but they were in a bit of a rut. They lost their previous home game last Wednesday against Charlotte and had shot below 40 percent from the field in their previous three games..
Butler bounced back by making 10 of 21 3-pointers and shooting 44 percent from the field overall against Duquesne. Butler's defense was equally impressive, holding the Dukes to 37 percent shooting.
"Our guys were ready," Butler coach Brad Stevens said. "I thought our guys played real hard, I thought our guys played really well. I thought our guys were really locked in defensively and much better paced offensively."
Butler also outrebounded Duquesne 36-28 and had 15 assists to eight turnovers.
Derrick Colter scored 11 points and was the only Duquesne player to reach double figures. The Dukes (8-18, 1-11) knew they were overmatched, especially when trying to score.
"That's one of the best defensive teams we've seen in a long time," Duquesne coach Jim Ferry said. "They're an extremely disciplined defensive team."
Duquesne remained in last place in the conference, but the Dukes had Butler's attention after beating Temple on Feb. 14. Ferry said Butler was on a different level.
"I don't think Temple's defense was as tight as these guys' were," Ferry said.
Marshall scored nine points in the first 5:10 of the second half to extend Butler's 14-point halftime lead to 20. A 3-pointer by Clarke pushed Butler's lead to 57-35 with just over nine minutes to go.
"I think they're so balanced as a team offensively that you can't really focus on one guy, and it allows each guy to play to his strengths," Ferry said.
Duquesne went scoreless for the first 3:34 and fell behind 6-0. A 3-pointer by Clarke gave the Bulldogs an 11-4 lead. Duquesne's Colter hit a 3-pointer to cut Butler's lead to 15-12, but Clarke came back with a 3-pointer that rattled in. A running floater by Clarke pushed the lead to eight.
A flurry by Dunham that included two 3-pointers pushed Butler's lead to 28-17 and caused the Dukes to call a timeout. Andrew Smith, Butler's 6-11 center, hit a 3-pointer in the final minute of the first half to help the Bulldogs take a 36-22 lead into halftime. Butler made 7-of-13 3-pointers in the first half, and the Bulldogs held the Dukes to 9-for-26 shooting before the break.
Butler put together a solid second half to pull away. Now, the Bulldogs can focus on their showdown with Saint Louis on Friday in a matchup of teams in the running for the conference title. The Billikens defeated Butler 75-58 on Jan. 31 in St. Louis, a game Stevens says the Bulldogs didn't approach the right way.
"We didn't come in ready," Stevens said. "We're going to prepare the best we can. We're excited to play."
NOTES: It was Smith's second game back after missing the Charlotte game with an abdominal injury. ... Butler won its first 12 home games this season before the loss to Charlotte. ... Duquesne had an 11-game losing streak this season which lasted from Dec. 22 to Feb. 14. ... Duquesne freshman Jeremiah Jones is from Gary, Ind.
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