Clarke pushes Butler past Rhode Island
Indianapolis, IN (Sports Network) - Rotnei Clarke poured in a game-high 23 points to lead ninth-ranked Butler to a 75-68 win over Rhode Island at Hinkle Fieldhouse.
Clarke shot 8-for-13 for the game and connected on 5-of-8 3-point attempts to help the Bulldogs (18-4, 5-2 A-10) bounce back from a 75-58 loss to Saint Louis on Thursday. It was Butler's second loss in three games.
Roosevelt Jones had 18 points, six rebounds and four assists, while Khyle Marshall added 13 points for the Bulldogs, who improved to 11-0 at home this season.
"The difference between the first half and the second half was we started making shots in the paint," Butler head coach Brad Stevens said. "They had a lot to do with that. They're long and they challenge shots. But we started finishing at the rim better and that helped us."
Nikola Malesevic finished with 18 points, while Mike Powell and Xavier Munford added 14 points apiece for the Rams (6-14, 1-6), losers in four straight and six of their last seven overall.
Butler trailed 32-30 at the break, but opened the second half on a 13-0 run to take a 43-32 lead just four minutes in. Jones scored seven points on the run, which was highlighted by Clarke's four-point play. Clarke was fouled as he buried a deep trey from the right wing and converted the subsequent free throw, providing the Bulldogs with a much-needed shift of momentum.
The teams traded buckets from there until Kameron Woods' slam made it 67-54 with just over 4 1/2 minutes left.
Rhode Island, though, scored the next six points to pull within 67-60 with 3:19 remaining.
The Rams managed to pull within four points several times down the stretch, but failed to score over the final minute and Butler held on for the win.
Mike Aaman's layup with 12:12 left in the first half sparked a 10-4 Rhode Island surge to put the Rams ahead 26-16.
Malesevic drained a triple to push Rhode Island's spread to 28-24, but Butler scored six unanswered points to take their first lead since the opening minute of the game.
The Rams scored the final four points of the first half to own a 32-30 lead after 20 minutes of play.
This was the first-ever meeting between the schools ... Clarke was the only Butler player to make a 3-pointer ... The Bulldogs outscored Rhode Island 36-28 in the paint ... Jones scored 13 of his 18 points in the second half ... The Rams made just seven field goals in the second half (7-for-23) after going 13-for-27 (48.1 percent) in the first half.
02/02 20:51:14 ET