Rhode Island (6-13) at (9) Butler (17-4)
Saturday, February 2, 4 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Scott Haynes, College Basketball Senior Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: Hinkle Fieldhouse (10,000) -- Indianapolis, Indiana. Television: CBSSN. Home Record: URI , Butler 10-0. Away Record: URI , Butler 4-3. Neutral Record: URI , Butler 3-1. Conference Record: URI 1-5, Butler 4-2. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: The ninth-ranked Butler Bulldogs return to the friendly confines of the Hinkle Fieldhouse, as they play host to the Rhode Island Rams in Atlantic 10 Conference action on Saturday.
Brad Stevens' Bulldogs are seeking a quick turnaround, as they suffered a 75-58 loss at Saint Louis on Thursday. The setback was the second in the last three games for Butler, which fell to 17-4 on the season, including a 4-2 conference mark. The Bulldogs have won all 10 of their games this season at home and are an impressive 79-11 in the Hinkle Fieldhouse under Stevens.
The Rams have struggled this season finding consistency and the result is a less than mediocre 6-13 overall mark. Things has been equally troubling in conference play, as Rhode Island is a miserable 1-5, just one game ahead of last-place Duquesne (0-6). The Rams enter this contest having lost three straight and four of their last five games, including a 70-64 setback to Virginia Commonwealth on Wednesday.
This marks the first-ever meeting between these two new conference foes.
The Rams were outscored 18-10 at the free-throw line and outrebounded 35-26, while committing 18 turnovers in the loss to VCU. The team did receive a balanced offensive effort though, as four Rams notched double digits in the loss, led by Xavier Munford's 17 points. Fellow guards Andre Malone and T.j. Buchanan added 11 points each, while Jordan Hare checked in with 10.
Despite the team effort in terms of scoring last time out, Rhode Island isn't exactly known for its offensive prowess this season. The Rams come into this contest averaging a rather mediocre 61.8 ppg, doing so on just .405 shooting. Munford has been the go-to-guy at that end of the floor, averaging a solid 17.4 ppg. Malone and Buchanan give the team limited support with 10.6 ppg each.
Butler had an uncharacteristically poor performance shooting the basketball against Saint Louis this week, converting just 43.1 percent from the floor overall. Compounding the problem was the Bulldogs' inability to hold onto the basketball, as the visitors were forced into a whopping 23 turnovers. Rotnei Clarke was once again the leader in terms of scoring for Butler, posting 17 points. However, he was also responsible for a team-high six turnovers. Andre Smith joined Clarke in double figures with 12 points, but no one else on the roster scored more than seven in the loss.
The Bulldogs have been much more efficient over the course of the season, averaging 71.0 ppg on a healthy .464 shooting. Clarke has been outstanding in his first season with the squad, as the Arkansas transfer has led the way with 16.7 ppg. Smith anchors the team in the middle with 11.7 ppg. Three others provide depth with double-figure averages as well, as Kellen Dunham (10.9 ppg), Roosevelt Jones (10.2 ppg) and Khyle Marshall (10.1 ppg) all have a knack for scoring.
The Bulldogs have won some huge games this season, but that doesn't mean they aren't susceptible to lapses. They certainly had one at Saint Louis this week. A second one at home this weekend isn't likely though.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Butler 74, Rhode Island 59
02/02 10:52:16 ET