(9) Butler (16-2) at La Salle (12-5)
Wednesday, January 23, 7 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Scott Haynes, College Basketball Senior Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: Tom Gola Arena (4,000) -- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Television: None. Home Record: Butler 9-0, La Salle 8-1. Away Record: Butler 4-1, La Salle 4-4. Neutral Record: Butler 3-1, La Salle 0-0. Conference Record: Butler 3-0, La Salle 2-2. Series Record: Butler leads, 6-2.
GAME NOTES: Coming off yet another defining victory, the ninth-ranked Butler Bulldogs get back to conference action, as they take on the La Salle Explorers in Atlantic 10 Conference action on Wednesday at the Tom Gola Arena.
Brad Stevens' Bulldogs are an impressive 16-2 and have already toppled teams like Marquette, North Carolina and Indiana this season. Butler added Gonzaga to the list on Saturday, edging out the visiting Bulldogs 64-63 at home. The win was the 13th straight for Butler, which jumps back into A-10 play, sporting a flawless 3-0 mark in-conference.
La Salle remains a dangerous league foe, despite not being named among the conference elite. The Explorers are 12-5 on the year, but just 2-2 in league play. La Salle had a brief two-game win streak halted this past weekend with a 70-63 setback at Xavier.
These two new conference foes have met just eight previous times with Butler winning six of those matchups. The last took place in 1999, a Butler win as part of the Cable Car Classic.
Butler topped Gonzaga last weekend to earn its third victory over a top-10 opponent this season. The win over the Zags came in dramatic fashion, as Roosevelt Jones stole an in-bounds pass and drained a 10-footer at the buzzer to give Butler the one-point win. Jones was instrumental in the win throughout, netting a team-high 20 points. Kellen Dunham added 14 points in support, starting once again in replacing leading scorer Rotnei Clarke.
Clarke injured his neck a couple of games ago and is inching closer and closer to returning to the floor, but his absence has not slowed down the Bulldogs in terms of posting victories. The team has somehow made due without Clarke's 16.3 ppg and his long-range acumen (.444, 59-of-133). Having solid depth certainly has helped assuage the loss, as four others are currently averaging double figures on the roster. Andrew Smith mans the middle and is averaging 11.7 ppg on .568 shooting. Dunham is next in line at 10.7 ppg, followed closely by Khyle Marshall and Jones at 10.4 and 10.3 ppg, respectively.
La Salle possesses several scoring options as well, leading to the team's 72.8 ppg. Four Explorers bring double-digit scoring averages into this game, including Ramon Galloway, who is netting 17.0 ppg. One of the A-10's premier 3-point threats, Galloway has converted 42.7 percent from behind the arc, having already knocked down 50 treys. Tyreek Duren is next in the scoring column at 14.3 ppg, followed by Tyrone Garland (14.1 ppg) and Jerrell Wright (10.9 ppg).
Not many A-10 opponents come into the Cintas Center and leave with a victory, and La Salle added its name to the list, as the team dropped a seven-point decision to the Musketeers last time out. Garland led the way in defeat with 16 points. Galloway was right behind with 15, while Steve Zack finished with 13.
The Bulldogs are probably going to drop a conference game of two along the way, but with plenty of momentum, it isn't likely to occur here. Despite still being without Clarke, Butler should get another balanced effort and win a tough road game in-conference.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Butler 70, La Salle 67
01/23 10:43:35 ET