We all cringed when Rotnei Clarke went down against Dayton in just his second A-10 game since transferring to Butler from Arkansas. The electrifying shooter essentially speared the basket support and was lucky to come away with a minor neck injury.
Butler did pretty well while Clarke rested his vertebrae, beating Richmond and then edging visiting Gonzaga in one of the season’s most exciting games to date. A one point loss at La Salle was the one down note marring his absence. Win or lose, the Bulldogs were bound to be glad to have Clarke back as they prepared to face Khalif Wyatt and the Temple Owls at Hinkle Fieldhouse today.
Clarke came back in a big way, helping his No. 9 Butler Bulldogs to an 83-71 win.
Clarke was a bit rusty, not that you’d notice from his point total. He scored 24 huge points in spite of a very un-Rotnei 4 of 14 from the floor. How did he get there with such a rough shooting night? He made it up at the line, driving to the hoop again and again until he had toed the line 14 times and made 13 of the shots go down. Drawing help defense, Clarke was also able to dish out nine assists to his teammates.
Temple’s own shooting star, Khalif Wyatt, had the type of game he always has against a ranked opponent, scoring 22 points to go with six assists and four steals.
Butler proved to be a complete team while Clarke was on the bench in a snazzy sweater, as long-time assets like Roosevelt Brown, Kyle Marshall and Kellen Dunham proved that the Bulldogs are a cohesive unit rather than Rotnei Clarke and the Pips. A trip to St. Louis – another in a long line of difficult A-10 tests – looms on the horizon as Butler attempts to close the month out with a 5-1 league record.
Eric Angevine is the editor of Storming the Floor. He tweets @stfhoops.