INDIANAPOLIS -- It was ugly, but it went into the right column for No. 17 Butler.
Kellen Dunham scored 15 points and Khyle Marshall added 13 points and eight rebounds to help the Bulldogs defeat New Orleans, 57-44, on Saturday at Hinkle Fieldhouse.
Roosevelt Jones added 11 points and six rebounds for the Bulldogs (12-2), who shot only 41 percent from the field but out-rebounded the Privateers, 33-22, to win their ninth consecutive game.
Butler coach Brad Stevens said the Bulldogs were focused on New Orleans, even though it didn't appear that way at times.
The Bulldogs committed eight turnovers in the first half and struggled to gain control of the game against a team that had lost four straight by at least 13 points.
"I thought we respected them, but we missed a few layups and they held the ball," Stevens said. "We knew it was going to be a grinder."
New Orleans coach Mark Slessinger said his team slowed the game down to throw Butler out of its rhythm. At times, the Privateers stalled.
"I really felt our kids bought into our game plan," Slessinger said. "That's the opposite of how we normally play. We knew to be successful, we were going to have to get out of our mode and play completely different than we normally do."
Stevens said he was glad his team remained disciplined and didn't try to force the action.
"We just decided we were going to sit back and wait for them to attack and take advantage of our opportunities because there weren't going to be very many," he said.
Butler's top scorer, Rotnei Clarke, had averaged 17.2 points per game this season, but he was held to a season-low four points in 36 minutes.
Clarke has shot 3-for-18 from the field and scored 10 points in his last two games, but Stevens said he isn't concerned.
"If anybody is worried about Rotnei's shooting, they can find something else to worry about," Stevens said. "It's just a matter of time."
Traddarius McPhearson led New Orleans with 10 points and Cory Dixon added nine points for the Privateers (3-10). Slessinger said he knew it was going to be tough to win at Hinkle, but he believes his team needs to play top competition if the program is to eventually rise. He said the team showed some promising signs on Saturday.
"They're good people," Slessinger said. "They play hard. We're a little bit undersized, we're a little bit small, we're a little bit slow, but gosh doggit, they make up for it by playing so hard in what they do."
Butler allowed its lowest point total of the season, and it also was New Orleans' lowest point total of the season.
Butler's offense was stagnant out of the gate, and the Bulldogs fell behind before Alex Barlow found Marshall for an alley-oop dunk that tied the score, 9-9, with about nine minutes left in the first half.
A putback dunk by Marshall gave the Bulldogs a 22-15 lead with about two minutes remaining in the half and a bucket in close by Andrew Smith with three seconds left in the half gave the Bulldogs a 24-18 lead at halftime.
Butler got away with shooting 32 percent from the field in the first half by taking a 21-12 advantage on the boards and holding the Privateers to 35 percent shooting. Clarke was scoreless at halftime.
Marshall slammed home another alley-oop two minutes into the second half on an assist from Jones to push Butler's lead to 29-18. Clarke's first points, on a 3-pointer, made it 32-20.
A four-point play by Dunham put the Bulldogs up, 38-25, with a little under 13 minutes to play and finally gave them a bit of separation.
New Orleans tried to stay in the game, and a 3-pointer by McPhearson cut Butler's lead to 40-32. Jones converted a 3-point play at the other end with 10 minutes left to boost the Bulldogs' lead back to double digits.
Butler isn't worried about playing below its usual standard heading into its Atlantic 10 opener Wednesday at St. Joseph's.
"We're not concerned at all," Marshall said. "Like coach said, it was just one of those games. I think our guys know it wasn't our best game and we know we have to get better.
"We have two days to prepare for St. Joseph's, and that's all we're worried about."
NOTES: Butler improved to 7-0 at Hinkle Fieldhouse this season. ... The Bulldogs are off to their best start since the 2008-09 season, when they started 19-1. ... Coach Mark Slessinger is from Bloomington, Ind., New Orleans assistant coach Kris Arkenberg is from Trafalgar, Ind., and junior guard Isaac Mack is from Indianapolis. ... New Orleans had only one offensive rebound in the first half and finished with three.