Butler 79, Dayton 73

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

DAYTON, Ohio -- New league, new setting, same results for Butler.
Despite losing leading scorer Rotnei Clarke to a scary injury in the first half, the No. 14 Bulldogs extended their win streak to 11 Saturday afternoon at Dayton, getting the kind of balance and efficiency that has become their signature under coach Brad Stevens in a 79-73 win.
Clarke took a hard foul from Dayton's Matt Derenbecker and left on a stretcher with 8:13 left in the first half. Though he was moving his arms, head and legs, paramedics stabilized Clarke on a backboard and placed him in a neck brace before he was taken to a local hospital for X-rays.
After the game, the school reported that Clarke has a sprained neck. Stevens left for the hospital immediately after the game.
The rest of the team picked up for him. Ten players scored, three in double figures, and Stevens' makeshift lineups with Clarke out kept finding ways to create big baskets and turn back Dayton rallies. Butler's Roosevelt Jones led everybody with 16 points and also had seven rebounds.
Butler improved to 14-2 overall and 2-0 in its new conference, the Atlantic 10, with its second road win in three days over an opponent expected to finish in the top half of the conference standings. The Bulldogs, national runners-up in 2010 and 2011, left the Horizon League for the Atlantic 10 last spring.
After a rebuilding season last year, Butler showed why it is probably on its way back to the NCAA tournament. In a hostile environment at University of Dayton Arena, Butler's defense and patience created easy scoring opportunities, and though Dayton won the rebounding battle 36-25, it seemed the Bulldogs got every big rebound.
The Bulldogs made their free throws down the stretch, too, to maintain a little breathing room and ultimately to seal it.
Chase Stigall hit a pair of big 3-pointers in the second half, and Andrew Smith hit one with 4:45 left to stretch what bad been a shrinking Butler lead back to eight, 68-60. Stigall, Smith and Clarke are the only seniors in Butler's rotation, but Butler never lost poise with Clarke out.
Clarke had five points and two steals before the injury. He came into the game averaging 17 points per game and is the second-most accurate 3-point shooter in the country at 44 percent.
Butler's lead was two, 18-16, at the time of his injury, but the Bulldogs pushed it to 11 by the five-minute mark of the first half and led 35-27 at halftime. Butler shot 59 percent (13-of-22) from the field in the first half.
Dayton (10-6, 0-2) made its runs in the second half, trimming a Butler lead that had grown to 14 down to five on three occasions. The Flyers even cut it down to four in the final 30 seconds before a pair of free throws by Kellen Dunham and a miss by Derenbecker.
Dayton had the ball trailing by six in the final 1:45, but Kevin Dillard's drive ended with a Butler deflection and the ball going out of bounds off Dillard's leg.
Vee Sanford and Dyshawn Pierre each scored 14 for Dayton, and Dillard had 13. Smith had 13 for Butler, and Khyle Marshall scored 12.

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