Clarke returns to lead No. 9 Butler past Temple
by David Woods, USA TODAY Sports
INDIANAPOLIS — Rotnei Clarke was not only back for the Butler Bulldogs. He was a new and improved version.
Everyone in college basketball knew he can shoot. He showed ‘em he can pass, too.
The senior guard added a career-high nine assists to his 24 points, charging the offense like an electrical outlet does an iPhone. The ninth-ranked Bulldogs pulled away from Temple 83-71 Saturday night before another sellout crowd of 10,000 at Hinkle Fieldhouse.
Butler (17-3) bounced back from Wednesday’s 54-53 loss at La Salle — without Clarke — and seized sole possession of first place in the Atlantic 10 at 4-1. And Butler has, by far, played the most difficult conference schedule.
No. 16 VCU lost for the second time in three days, falling at home to — yep — La Salle, 69-61.
Clarke said he felt no ill effects from Jan. 12 at Dayton, where he crashed into the padded basket support, sprained his neck and was taken from the floor on a stretcher. He said his legs were a little heavy by the end. Mostly, he wore out Temple’s defenders.
“I was just going to go out and play the same way I’ve always played,” he said. “It was just a crazy incident, what happened. So I was just going in with peace of mind, knowing I was going to play the same way.”
Not quite the same way.
Usually, he punctures defenses with his shooting, and he did hit a couple from about 30 feet that most would never attempt. He was 3-of-10 on 3s and 13-of-14 on free throws, including six in the final 28 seconds to secure victory.
But this time, Clarke performed surgery by delivering the scalpel to others.
“I mean, it’s easy to get assists when you throw it up there and guys just grab it and dunk it in,” he said.
Khyle Marshall’s 9-for-11 shooting resulted in 19 points and an astounding seven dunks. One came when he caught Roosevelt Jones’ pass in mid-air with his back to the rim, did a 180-degree turn and slammed it.
Freshman Kellen Dunham added 17 points on 5-of-6 shooting on 3-pointers. Over three … [For more on Clarke returns to lead No. 9 Butler past Temple, click here.]