NCAA BK

Wed, Jan 23, 2013 - 7:00 PM ET
Game Preview
 

Butler-La Salle Preview

Share This Story

   
 

After holding down one of the top offenses in the nation, Butler may have to rely on another strong defensive effort when it returns to Atlantic 10 play.

The ninth-ranked Bulldogs have ruled out leading scorer Rotnei Clarke again as they try to extend their winning streak to 14 games Wednesday night at La Salle, one of the conference's highest-scoring teams.

Butler (16-2, 3-0) had hoped to get Clarke back against the Explorers (12-5, 2-2), but the team announced Monday that the senior guard would miss his third straight game with a sprained neck.

Clarke, who is averaging 16.3 points, was hurt when he crashed head-first into a padded basket support at Dayton on Jan. 12.

"Without Clarke, they're a good team," La Salle coach John Giannini said. "With him, they're certainly better - maybe a great team. But maybe they're a great team even without him out there."

While they've averaged just 63.0 points - 9.0 below their season average - in the two games since Clarke went down, the Bulldogs have stepped up defensively to tie the fourth-longest winning streak in school history at 13.

Butler held visiting Richmond to its fewest points this season in a 62-47 win last Wednesday, then limited then-No. 8 Gonzaga to its second-lowest total in a 64-63 victory Saturday. Gonzaga ranks among the top 10 nationally with 79.4 points per game.

Sophomore Roosevelt Jones stole an inbounds pass and hit a buzzer-beating floater to give Butler its school-record third victory of the season against a top-10 opponent. The Bulldogs moved into the top 10 on Monday for the first time since Feb. 18, 2008.

"The way they play the game, how hard they play the game, they just make you believe," coach Brad Stevens said of his players.

Jones has averaged 15.3 points and 8.0 rebounds in his last three games, while freshman Kellen Dunham - starting in place of Clarke - added 14 against Gonzaga while hitting 4 of 8 from 3-point range.

Butler is hoping to control the boards again, having outrebounded 10 of its last 11 opponents. The Bulldogs lead the A-10 in rebounding margin (plus-8.1) while La Salle ranks 14th at minus-2.2.

The Explorers, however, should provide another test for the Butler defense as the league's third-ranked scoring offense at 72.8 points per game. They've averaged 80.6 points during a seven-game home winning streak.

La Salle lost 70-63 at Xavier on Saturday, but Giannini has set a lofty goal this week as the Explorers face Butler and then visit No. 19 VCU.

"Not many teams have the potential to beat two ranked teams in the same week," Giannini said. "If you do that, you'll elevate the program pretty quickly. It's a great challenge, but a great opportunity too."

Senior guard Ramon Galloway leads the Explorers in scoring (17.0 ppg) and ranks in the top 25 nationally in 3-point field goals made per game (2.9). He's also among the Division I leaders with 2.5 steals per contest.

The Explorers are second in the A-10 in that category, averaging 8.5 steals.

"Their pressure is very good and their guards are very good," Stevens said. "I think it's a team capable of being an at-large NCAA (tournament) team."

Butler is 6-2 all-time in this series, although these programs haven't met since 1999. The Bulldogs last visited La Salle in 1994 when both schools were in the Midwestern Collegiate Conference, the former name of the Horizon League.

Tagged: Butler, La Salle, Gonzaga, Rotnei Clarke

Related Stories

Member Comments

Please note by clicking on "Post comment" you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Use and the comment you are posting is in compliance with such terms. Be Polite. Inappropriate posts may be removed by the moderator.

powered by



More Than Sports on MSN

Fox Sports Store

    itemName itemURL imageSrc price itemDescription
    Nike Florida Gators #1 Replica Elite Basketball Jersey - Black http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Florida_Gators/browse/featuredproduct/885881/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_885000/ff_885881_xl.jpg&w=100 74.95 Nike Florida Gators #1 Replica Elite Basketball Jersey - Black
    Nike Georgetown Hoyas #22 Hyper Elite Road Performance Jersey - Navy Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Georgetown_Hoyas/browse/featuredproduct/1030243/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1030000/ff_1030243_xl.jpg&w=100 119.95 Nike Georgetown Hoyas #22 Hyper Elite Road Performance Jersey - Navy Blue
    Nike Duke Blue Devils #5 Tourney Takeover Replica T-Shirt - Duke Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Duke_Blue_Devils/browse/featuredproduct/1032710/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1032000/ff_1032710_xl.jpg&w=100 27.95 Nike Duke Blue Devils #5 Tourney Takeover Replica T-Shirt - Duke Blue
    Nike Oregon Ducks X-Ray Ball T-Shirt - Green http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Oregon_Ducks/browse/featuredproduct/1052002/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1052000/ff_1052002_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Nike Oregon Ducks X-Ray Ball T-Shirt - Green
    Nike Ohio State Buckeyes Road Warrior Tri-blend T-Shirt - Scarlet http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Ohio_State_Buckeyes/browse/featuredproduct/1052645/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1052000/ff_1052645_xl.jpg&w=100 29.95 Nike Ohio State Buckeyes Road Warrior Tri-blend T-Shirt - Scarlet
    Indiana Hoosiers 2013 NCAA Men\'s Basketball Road to March Madness T-Shirt - Crimson http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Indiana_Hoosiers/browse/featuredproduct/1124528/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1124000/ff_1124528_xl.jpg&w=100 19.95 Indiana Hoosiers 2013 NCAA Men\'s Basketball Road to March Madness T-Shirt - Cri..
    adidas Louisville Cardinals 2013 March Madness #10 Premier Swingman Jersey - Red http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Louisville_Cardinals/browse/featuredproduct/1127200/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1127000/ff_1127200_xl.jpg&w=100 89.95 adidas Louisville Cardinals 2013 March Madness #10 Premier Swingman Jersey - Red
    adidas Notre Dame Fighting Irish 2013 March Madness #45 Premier Swingman Jersey - White http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Notre_Dame_Fighting_Irish/browse/featuredproduct/1127218/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1127000/ff_1127218_xl.jpg&w=100 89.95 adidas Notre Dame Fighting Irish 2013 March Madness #45 Premier Swingman Jersey ..
    Nike Gonzaga Bulldogs March Madness Bracketville T-Shirt - Navy Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Gonzaga_Bulldogs/browse/featuredproduct/1155821/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1155000/ff_1155821_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Nike Gonzaga Bulldogs March Madness Bracketville T-Shirt - Navy Blue
    Top of the World Miami Hurricanes 2013 NCAA ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament Champions Adjustable Hat – Green http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Miami_Hurricanes/browse/featuredproduct/1177723/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1177000/ff_1177723_xl.jpg&w=100 25.95 Top of the World Miami Hurricanes 2013 NCAA ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament Cham..