Penn-Butler Preview


Butler still has a little bit of time to make some final adjustments before heading into its first season in the Atlantic 10.

Sharpshooter Rontei Clarke, though, has already made the transition to playing on the team quite well.

Clarke and the 17th-ranked Bulldogs seek their eighth straight victory Wednesday night when they host struggling Penn at Hinkle Fieldhouse.

One of the top 3-point shooters in the nation, Clarke has emerged as one of the most important one-year eligible transfers in the nation as Butler (10-2) - NCAA tournament runner-up in 2010 and 2011 - seeks a return after missing out on the field of 68 last season while Clarke was a spectator following his transfer from Arkansas.

The fifth-year senior is tied for the Division I lead with 4.17 3-pointers made per game and is shooting 47.2 percent beyond the arc while averaging a team-high 18.1 points. He overcame a slow start at Vanderbilt on Saturday, missing his first six shots before regrouping to hit six 3-pointers and going 7 for 15 overall in Butler's 68-49 victory.

"I came out a little too aggressive, shot some bad shots in the beginning,'' Clarke said. "Calmed down and moved the ball around well as a team in the second half and did some good things.''

Freshman Kellen Dunham added 10 of his 12 points in the second half and has averaged 12.2 points on 47.2 percent shooting in five games since coach Brad Stevens decided to use him as a sub after he scored 8.4 points per game on 29.7 percent shooting in five as a starter.

Butler, which is 5-0 at home while averaging 80.0 points, hosts New Orleans on Saturday before making its A-10 debut at Saint Joseph's on Jan. 9.

Penn (2-9) has dropped four straight after Saturday's 68-63 overtime defeat at Wagner, falling to 1-4 in games decided by seven or fewer points. The Quakers played without leading scorer and rebounder Fran Dougherty, who was sidelined due to an illness, though Miles Cartwright finished with 19 points and Jamal Lewis added 16 while hitting all three of his attempts from 3-point range.

Cartwright, along with four other players, had been suspended from Penn's previous game due to a violation of team rules. The status of Dougherty, who averages 15.7 points and 8.8 rebounds while shooting 52.5 percent, is uncertain.

While the Quakers are trying to become just the 11th Division I program to reach 1,700 victories, they also carry a 33-game losing streak against ranked opponents since a 73-70 overtime win over No. 6 Temple on Nov. 23, 1998.

Butler won the only game between the teams, 63-53 at The Palestra in Philadelphia in the second round of last season's College Basketball Invitational.

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