The 13th-ranked Butler Bulldogs will play their first Atlantic 10 home game on Wednesday, as they welcome the Richmond Spiders to the Hinkle Fieldhouse.
The Bulldogs have looked comfortable in their new surroundings, winning each of their first two A-10 games as part of a much longer 11-game win streak. Brad Stevens' squad is an impressive 14-2 on the year, with marquee wins over Marquette, North Carolina and Indiana this season. The team hasn't lost since Nov. 21 against Illinois and most recently moved to 2-0 in league play with a hard-fought 79-73 road win at Dayton.
Chris Mooney's Spiders are a dangerous team with the ability to compete regardless of the competition. Richmond is a solid 11-6 on the season, although the team has struggled a bit since mid-December, with losses in four of the last six games, including a 71-59 road loss at La Salle this past weekend. With the loss, Richmond fell to 1-1 in conference play.
This is just the second all-time meeting between these two new conference foes. The first and only previous meeting took place in 2004, a 69-68 victory for Richmond in the Fiesta Bowl Classic.
The Spiders have been less than full strength over the course of the last few games, with an ankle injury keeping junior forward Derrick Williams (13.6 ppg, team-high 6.8 rpg) sidelined. The team is fortunate to still have senior guard Darien Brothers playing at a high level. The 6-foot-3 sniper ranks third nationally in 3-point shooting (.511) and leads Richmond in scoring at 15.1 ppg. Sophomore guard Kendall Anthony (13.4 ppg) can also fill it up from the outside, shooting .435 from behind the arc. Junior guard Cedrick Lindsay (9.9 ppg) completes Richmond's three-guard set.
In last weekend's 12-point loss at La Salle, the Spiders' lack of an inside presence, allowed the Explorers to dominate down low, holding a 48-24 edge in points in the paint. Richmond, which shot just 40 percent from the floor overall, compounded the problem by going just 4-of-18 from behind the arc (.222). Anthony led the team with 13 points, while Lindsay added 12. Brothers however, struggled with his shot, knocking down just 2-of-13 from the floor overall, including 1-of-6 from 3-point range to finish with seven points.
The Bulldogs will also have to deal with a crucial injury for at least the next couple of games, as leading scorer Rotnei Clarke was fouled into the basket standard in the first half against Dayton and had to be taken off on a stretcher. The diagnosis on Clarke is encouraging in that he is expected to only miss a couple of games with a neck injury. The bad news is that Butler will certainly miss his long range acumen (59-of-133) and his 16.3 ppg. Center Andrew Smith (11.8 ppg) and forward Khyle Marshall (11.0 ppg) will need to elevate their offensive games, as will guard Kellen Dunham (10.5 ppg).
The Bulldogs lost Clarke in the first half, but were able to fill the void by shooting a scorching .581 from the field overall, including .538 from 3-point range against the Flyers. Roosevelt Jones led three Bulldogs in double figures in the win, with 16 points. Smith and Marshall added 13 and 12 points, respectively.