When Butler senior guard Rotnei Clarke fell into the basket stanchion in the first half of the Bulldogs’ 79-73 win at Dayton on Saturday afternoon the worst was feared for the sharpshooter.
With the team unable to give a concrete timetable in regards to when Clarke would be able to return to the floor the thought was that he could be out for much of the month of January, with head coach Brad Stevens simply offering up that the injury “is not season-ending by any means.”
Clarke is sore due to the neck sprain he was able to return to Indianapolis with the team last night, and the question of when he’ll be able to make his return remains.
Butler released the following statement on Clarke’s status on Sunday afternoon:
The Butler scoring leader underwent an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) in Indianapolis on Saturday evening after returning from Dayton. He received treatment and did a light workout on Sunday. No time table has been set for his return.
“The MRI confirmed the presence of a significant neck sprain. His spinal cord and cervical discs were viewed normal,” said Butler trainer Ryan Galloy. “Right now, he’s sore and stiff, but he’s out of the collar. The next question is when he can resume contact.”
The Bulldogs have two home games this week, with Richmond visiting on Wednesday night and No. 9 Gonzaga on Saturday, and it remains to be seen if Clarke is able to go through a full contact practice. Based on Galloy’s quote it’s pretty clear that Clarke would need to do so in order to entertain any thoughts of returning to the lineup.
Against Dayton the Bulldogs shot 58.1% from the field and assisted on 19 of their 25 made field goals with Roosevelt Jones (16 points), Andrew Smith (13) and Khyle Marshall (12) leading the way offensively.
But just as big in the win was the production of the Butler bench. The Bulldog reserves, led by Kellen Dunham (eight points) and Erik Fromm (seven), outscored Dayton’s reserves 27-19.
With Clarke out of the lineup for the foreseeable future Stevens will need his non-starters to contribute even more offensively, especially when Gonzaga visits on Saturday night.
Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.
No. 25 Texas A&M made a statement on Turkey Day, as they knocked off No. 10 Gonzaga 62-61 in the semifinals of the Battle 4 Atlantis.
Danuel House led the way with 19 points for the Aggies while Tony Trocha-Morales finished with 14 points as Texas A&M picked up the win despite the fact that they did not score for the final eight minutes of the game.
Billy Kennedy’s club looked the part of an SEC contender, playing tough defense and keeping Gonzaga’s massive and talented front line in check. Perhaps most impressive was that they were able to hang on despite blowing a lead late in the second half, and that they did it with their defense. Gonzaga can score. They have big bodies inside and shooters to surround them, but Domantas Sabonis struggled with foul struggle throughout the game while Kyle Wiltjer did not score in the final 12 minutes.
Kentucky, at this point, is the clear-cut favorite in the SEC, and while Vanderbilt looked really good in Maui this week, A&M looks like they’re going to end up giving the Commodores a run for their money for second-best in the league.
On the other hand, this loss wasn’t a total disaster for the Zags. They had the final possession with a chance to be a good team on a day when Domantas Sabonis was rendered completely ineffective. And, more importantly, point guard Josh Perkins was terrific. He did have a late turnover, but he scored all 15 of his points in the second half as he helped keep the Zags within striking distance.
Texas A&M will play the winner of Syracuse and No. 18 UConn for the title.
GAME OF THE NIGHT: Syracuse vs. No. 18 UConn, 3:30 p.m.
For the first time since the Orange departed the Big East, the two former rivals will square off. Today’s battle will take place at the Battle 4 Atlantis, as the Orange knocked off Charlotte yesterday and the Huskies dispatched Michigan. To get ready for this battle, I’d suggest ready through the conversation @NoEscalators had with himself last night.
THIS ONE’S GOOD, TOO: No. 25 Texas A&M vs. No. 10 Gonzaga, 1:00 p.m.
The other semifinal in the Battle 4 Atlantis could end up being just as good, as the Aggies — who might be the second best team in the SEC — square off with a Gonzaga team that has one of the best front lines in the country. This will be a good test to figure out just how good both of these teams are.
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR
1. No. 20 Wichita State vs. USC, 2:00 p.m.: The Shockers will be without Fred VanVleet for this event. It will also be a chance for us to gauge just how good this 4-0 USC team is.
2. No. 23 Xavier vs. Alabama, 12:00 p.m: The Musketeers should have no problems dispatching Alabama.
3. No. 8 Villanova vs. Stanford, 4:30 p.m.: The Wildcats are, once again, as good as any team in the country. Josh Hart might be the nation’s most underrated star.
4. No. 14 Cal vs. San Diego State, 12:00 a.m.: Tyrone Wallace and company have been awesome this season. They get their first real test of the season tonight.
5. Providence vs. Evansville, 7:00 p.m.: Evansville is one of the nation’s best mid-majors, good enough to give the likes of Wichita State and Northern Iowa a fight in the Missouri Valley. And Providence? They got a kid named Kris Dunn. Heard of him?
THE REST OF THE TOP 25
- No. 3 Michigan State vs. Boston College, 6:30 p.m.
- No. 11 Arizona vs. Santa Clara, 11:30 p.m.
- No. 17 Notre Dame vs. Monmouth, 6:30 p.m.