Rotnei Clarke, Andrew Smith Pace Butler in Atlantic 10 Conference Debut
The Butler Bulldogs had their inside-outside combination working on Wednesday night, as Rotnei Clarke and Andrew Smith carried the load offensively.
Clarke (28) and Smith (24) combined for 52 total points of offense in the Bulldogs’ 72-66 victory at St. Joseph’s. The victory marked the tenth straight for Butler and their sixth win away from home. Only Gonzaga, Murray State, and Bucknell join the Bulldogs in that regard.
The addition of Clarke, who sat out all of last season after transferring to Butler from Arkansas, has been huge for head coach Brad Stevens and the Bulldogs. Entering Wednesday night’s game, Clarke was averaging a team-high 16.7 points per game, a number that will obviously increase follow his 28-point outing.
In a night where conference play was in full force, Butler and St. Joe’s went back and forth as the Hawks were seeking a statement victory over a team that is currently ranked at No. 14 in the nation. However, the Bulldogs’ ability to erase a five point halftime deficit and control things late was what ultimately led to the 13th win of the season.
Clarke, who may widely be considered as the top shooter in the country, was the story of the game. He converted on six 3-point attempts, but Smith’s production cannot go unnoticed. Smith’s 24 points tied a season-high, while Clarke’s 28 broke a previous mark of 27.
Heading into the season, St. Joe’s was considered the preseason favorites within the Atlantic 10 Conference, but after Wednesday’s loss, the Hawks now sit at 8-5 overall.
Tonight marked the first game for Butler as a member of the A-10.
Paul Seaver is the College Basketball Network Manager at Rant Sports. You can follow him on Twitter: @PaulSeaverRS