Clarke returns, leads Butler over Temple
Indianapolis, IN (Sports Network) - Rotnei Clarke returned to the lineup after missing the last three games due to injury and scored a game-high 24 points and dished out nine assists, as ninth-ranked Butler won a hard-fought, 83-71 conference clash over Temple in the first-ever meeting between the two programs.
Khyle Marshall donated 19 points on 9-of-11 shooting for the Bulldogs (17-3, 4-1 A-10), who bounced back from their first conference loss Wednesday at La Salle. Kellen Dunham totaled 17 points and Roosevelt Jones chipped in nine points in the victory.
Khalif Wyatt scored 22 points and connected on 4-of-6 from 3-point range to go along with six assists for the Owls (13-6, 2-3), who have dropped four of their last seven. Scootie Randall and Anthony Lee contributed 13 and 12 points respectively, in defeat.
Temple connected on 7-of-11 three-pointers at the break, while Wyatt shot lights out - including 5-of-7 from the field and 4-of-4 from 3-point range - and had 16 points, four assists and four steals.
Clarke had 13 at halftime and Butler as a team shot 50 percent from the floor.
The Bulldogs stayed hungry into the second half, opening the stanza up on a 14-4 run following Clarke's deep 3-pointer and two Woods free throws which made it 51-38 with 13:50 remaining.
Temple, however, answered back with an 18-5 rally to tie the contest at 56, as Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson capped the surge with a three-point play with just over eight minutes left.
Ultimately, though, Butler and Clarke shut down the visitors over the final seven-plus minutes, as the senior was in on three critical assists - a Marshall dunk and two Dunham treys - which turned the tie game into a 64-58 edge, and eventually capped off a 15-4 run which grew the lead to 71-60 with just over four minutes remaining.
"I thought their defense was very good (late), but I also think we quick-shot a couple of times. We didn't take care of the ball like we needed to," Temple head coach Fran Dunphy said.
The Bulldogs played keep-away over the final minute, while Clarke finished the action going 6-of-6 from the charity stripe to close out the game.
The Owls came out of the gate firing, as consecutive Wyatt 3-pointers gave the visitors an 8-2 lead 2 1/2 minutes into the contest. In fact, Temple controlled the tempo of the game until the 9:07 mark of the first half.
That was until Clarke, the team's leading scorer (16.3 points per game) who returned after injuring his neck Jan. 12 versus Dayton, nailed a jumper to give the Bulldogs a 22-21 lead.
Clarke's return was noticed, as he found a streaking Kameron Woods for pretty alley-oop with just over four minutes remaining in the half, tying the game at 26.
Clarke was the go-to-guy again on the next two possessions, as he nailed a three-ball, then found Marshall wide-open for an easy dunk, giving Butler a five-point edge with 3:42 left before the break.
Just when it seemed the Temple lost most of its momentum, two quick baskets before the break, Lee's layup and Jake O'Brien's trey with three ticks on the clock, brought the Owls within 37-34 after 20 minutes of play.
TJ DiLeo started the game in place of Wyatt, who came off the bench to spark the Owls. DiLeo injured his ankle in the first half and did not return ... The Bulldogs shot 52 percent from the floor, compared to 40.7 percent for Temple ... Dunham connected on 5-of-6 from 3-point range ... Temple made just two 3-pointers in the second half after making seven in the first .. Clarke went 13-of-14 from the foul line.
01/27 01:39:59 ET