Coming off their first-ever Atlantic 10 Conference loss, the ninth-ranked Butler Bulldogs seek a quick turnaround, as they welcome the Temple Owls to the Hinkle Fieldhouse for a conference showdown on Saturday.
Brad Stevens' squad has recorded marquee victories over teams like Marquette, North Carolina, Indiana and Gonzaga this season and had run its win streak to 13 straight wins, but none of that helped the Bulldogs this week as the team fell to La Salle on the road, 54-53. The loss leaves Butler at 16-3 overall and 3-1 in A-10 action.
The Owls have a storied history, as one of only six programs with over 1,800 wins (Kentucky, Kansas, North Carolina, Duke and Syracuse). Fran Dunphy's squad has added to that win total this year with 13 wins in 18 games thus far. Temple is just 2-2 in league play to this point, but has won three of its last four games, including a 76-69 victory over Big Five foe Penn this week.
This marks the first-ever meeting between these two programs on the hardwood.
The Owls are not an offensive juggernaut at 69.2 ppg, but stingy defensive play puts the team in the win column more often than not. Still, guard Khalif Wyatt has taken his offensive game to the next level of late, averaging 17.5 ppg coming in (second in the conference). Anthony Lee (11.8 ppg, 7.4 rpg) and Scootie Randall (11.0 ppg, 6.9 rpg) provide balance.
In the win over Penn, Wyatt was at it again, pouring in a game-high 26 points, while grabbing six rebounds and doling out five assists. Lee just missed a double-double with 16 points and nine rebounds, while Jake O'Brien added 14 points to the cause. Temple shot 51 percent from the floor in the game.
Butler has been without star guard Rotnei Clarke for the last three games due to a neck injury, but has returned to practice this week and will be evaluated up until game time to determine his status for the game. The Bulldogs are obviously better off with Clarke (16.3 ppg), but the team has made the best of his absence thanks to plenty of scoring depth. Andrew Smith ranks second on the team in scoring at 11.9 ppg, followed by Kellen Dunham (10.9 ppg), Roosevelt Jones (10.5 ppg) and Khyle Marshall (10.1 ppg). Butler is averaging a modest 71.0 ppg on the year, but does so on a efficient .463 shooting.
It was a layup by La Salle with less than three seconds left that propelled the Explorers to an upset of the Bulldogs this week in Philadelphia. It isn't as if Butler struggled to shoot the basketball. The Bulldogs converted a solid 48.9 percent from the floor, although it resulted in just 53 points. Smith led the way in scoring and on the boards with 16 points and eight rebounds. Dunham added 15 points, while Jones finished with 14 in the loss.