Rotnei Clarke scored 15 of his 28 points in the second half to lead No. 14 Butler to a 72-66 win at St. Joseph’s in their first league game as a member of the Atlantic 10.
Clarke hit six threes while chipping in with six boards and four assists. Center Andrew Smith added 24 points and 10 boards, six on the offensive end, as the Bulldogs managed to pull-away late in the second half in one of the more entertaining games that we are going to see this season.
Both teams shot the ball well from three. Both teams got up and down the floor. Both teams struggled with the concept of defense. They traded runs. The difference? Butler was able to execute down the stretch, while St. Joe’s lost yet another close game.
That was something St. Joe’s struggled with mightily last season, and an issue they haven’t exactly fixed early on this season. Call it what you want — poor execution, bad late-game coaching, questionable decision-making — but more than anything, it’s a consistent problem that needs to be addressed.
The point that needs to be taken out of this game, however, is that Butler is going to be a force to be reckoned with in the A-10.
What better way to introduce yourself to the conference than to go into the gym of the team picked to win the conference and leave with a victory?
No. 15 Cincinnati pounced on Memphis from the start, taking a 51-32 lead into halftime.
Then, Gary Clark decided to add insult to injury to start the second half. Seriously, how did he catch that?
Mick Cronin’s team is much better offensively than in previous seasons. I’m sure fans in the Fifth Third Arena can get used to seeing more plays like this.
Michigan State freshman guard Cassius Winston had just one field goal in the first half. And it was a half-court buzzer-beater as the Spartans capped a sizable run to take a 49-31 lead over Nebraska going into the break.
The Spartans ended the half on a 21-5 run.
Winston provided a serious boost off the bench during that stanza. Moments earlier, he helped the Breslin Center erupt when he lobbed a pass off the backboard to teammate Miles Bridges.
Michigan State opened the day projected as one of the final at-large bids in the NCAA Tournament. The margin for error is thing and it appears the Spartans are playing with a sense of urgency.
Wednesday’s slate of games had several wild results.
Former Ohio State walk-on turned blogger turned author Mark Titus, who is currently writing for The Ringer, joined Rob Dauster on the latest episode of the CBT Podcast to go over last night’s games. The two also discussed who is the best team in the nation at the moment, as well Frank Mason III’s rap single from several years ago #BIFM
You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher and Audioboom
North Carolina’s Roy Williams called fellow Hall of Fame coach Rick Pitino to apologize for a fan’s behavior during Wednesday night’s game in Chapel Hill.
While leaving the floor at halftime, Pitino had to be restrained by members of the Louisville coaching staff and he and a UNC fan exchanged words as he made his way to the locker rom. There’s video of Pitino pointing and shouting at a fan, who reportedly said, “Pitino, you suck!”
“I don’t like that,” Williams said, according to the Charlotte Observer. “I mean we’re in North Carolina. We don’t have to be like everybody else. We can raise Cain. You can boo, but you don’t have to say the stuff that we as coaches have to put up with.”
“I hope that never happens at North Carolina ever again.”
No. 8 North Carolina defeated No. 7 Louisville, 74-63.
STILL TO PLAY
Georgia at Alabama (RPI: 68, KenPom: 61, next four teams), 7:00 p.m.
Nebraska at Michigan State (RPI: 43, KenPom: 55, No. 10 seed), 7:00 p.m.
Towson at UNC Wilmington (RPI: 41, KenPom: 57, No. 12 seed), 7:00 p.m.