Rotnei Clarke

Rotnei Clarke taken off on stretcher during first half of Butler-Dayton after neck injury

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Star Butler guard Rotnei Clarke was taken off on a stretcher with 8:13 to play in the first half of the Bulldogs’ matchup with Dayton Saturday afternoon.

Clarke was fouled hard by Dayton forward Matt Derenbecker on a drive to the basket, causing him to lose his balance in mid-air. He fell awkwardly and his head speared the base of the backboard support. He was in immediate visible pain and was tended to by team doctors who attempted to keep him from moving as a precaution.

While being attended to, microphones picked up Clarke’s dialogue with those attending to him, insisting that he return to the game, but he was taken off on a stretcher. Doctors were also heard talking about what the injury could be, suggesting perhaps it was a stinger.

Clarke had full movement of his arms and legs when he was taken to the locker room on a stretcher. He gave the crowd a “thumbs up” gesture as he was taken into the tunnel. He was taken to a local hospital.

UPDATE 12 January 2013, 4:58 p.m. ET

According to David Woods of the Indianapolis Star, Clarke has been evaluated and tests show he does not have spinal damage after the fall. Woods cites the Butler trainer in saying that Clarke is being released from the hospital and will travel on the team bus with the Bulldogs.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Marcus Paige, Joel Berry lead No. 9 North Carolina past No. 2 Maryland

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — He’s back.

For the first time this season — and for the first time in more than a year that he hasn’t been hampered with some kind of foot or ankle injury — Marcus Paige donned a North Carolina jersey, and it didn’t take him long to find the form that made him the Preseason National Player of the Year.

On the first Tar Heel possession, Paige came off of a ball-screen, drove the lane and found Kennedy Meeks at the rim for a layup. Not 30 seconds later, he came off of a down screen and buried a three. Paige would finish with 20 points and five assists as No. 9 North Carolina put together a fairly resounding win over No. 2 Maryland in the Dean Dome on Tuesday night, winning 89-81.

Paige finished 7-for-12 from the floor and 4-for-5 from beyond the arc, hitting a number of threes in the second half that helped hold off a Maryland push sparked by their own all-american point guard, Melo Trimble.

Trimble was erratic early on, committing three turnovers in the first six minutes and eight on the night, but it was his play at the end of the first half and early second half that kept North Carolina from blowing their doors. At one point, Maryland was down 32-19 and in danger of getting run out of Tobacco Road.

In total, Trimble finished with 23 points and 12 assists, hitting four big threes during that stretch. He either scored or assisted on 11 of Maryland’s first 12 second half field goals.

As good as Paige was, the bigger story may actually be Joel Berry II. He took two dumb threes in the first half — which played a role in Maryland being able to make this a game — and he missed a few free throws late, but overall he was terrific. He finished with 14 points and five assists, making 3-of-5 threes and turning the ball over just twice. He’s clearly beat Nate Britt out at the point guard spot, and his ability to take pressure off of Paige as a secondary ball-handler and playmaker is huge.

(More to come from Chapel Hill…)

VIDEO: Melo Trimble drops Nate Britt with a crossover

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North Carolina is hosting No. 2 Maryland in a heated contest in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Terps sophomore guard Melo Trimble is playing very well and part of his performance was dropping North Carolina’s Nate Britt with a crossover in the second half.

(H/T: The Cauldron)