The 17th-ranked Butler Bulldogs hope to open their 2013 schedule the way they closed their 2012 slate, as they welcome the Penn Quakers to the Hinkle Fieldhouse for non-conference action on Wednesday.
Brad Steven's Bulldogs bring a seven-game win streak into this contest, as they are once again regarded as one of the nation's finest mid-majors. The team is 10-2 on the season, with the two losses coming against Xavier and Illinois. Most recently, the team picked up its 10th win of the year with a 68-49 road win at Vanderbilt.
Unlike Butler, Jerome Allen's Quakers are seeking a complete turnaround from the 2012 portion of their schedule. Penn has only two wins on the season against nine losses and brings a four-game losing streak into this contest, including a 68-63 overtime setback at Wagner last weekend.
This is just the second meeting between these two teams. Butler won the only other matchup, a 63-53 victory in last year's CBI.
The Quakers were without their leading scorer against the Seahawks last weekend, but still had opportunities to win the game in regulation and the extra session but failed to capitalize. Miles Cartwright led the way in defeat with 19 points. Jamal Lewis added 16 points, while Henry Brooks Jr. chipped in with 12.
Junior forward Fran Dougherty paces Penn in both scoring (15.7 ppg) and rebounding (8.8 rpg) but is currently sidelined with mononucleosis. Without him, a team that is only averaging 62.3 ppg, is at a serious disadvantage. Without Dougherty in the lineup, only Cartwright remains as a viable option at the offensive end, averaging 14.8 ppg. Just a freshman, Lewis ranks third on the team in scoring, albeit at a mere 5.4 ppg.
The Bulldogs turned the heat up in the second half, turning a 3-point lead at the break (25-22) into a 19-point rout of the Commodores. Rotnei Clarke hit six 3-pointers and led the way with a game-high 22 points. Kellen Dunham came off the bench to tally 12 points, as Butler shot a healthy .471 from the field overall, while holding a 42-27 advantage in rebounding.
Clarke has been a dominant offensive force in his first season with the Bulldogs. The former Arkansas product is shooting a modest .435 from the floor overall, but ranks among the nation's best sharp-shooters, draining .472 from behind the arc, while amassing a national-best 50 3-pointers thus far. Clarke is averaging a team-high 18.1 ppg and is joined in double figures by Andrew Smith (11.2 ppg), Dunham (11.0 ppg) and Khyle Marshall (10.8 ppg).