The jockeying for position in the Atlantic 10 Conference continues on Wednesday night, as the Bonnies of St. Bonaventure pay a visit to the 14th-ranked Butler Bulldogs.
St. Bonaventure has won three of its last four games to improve to an even 10-10 overall and 3-4 in conference. The Bonnies, who recently topped visiting Duquesne in a 68-60 final last Saturday, are just 3-6 in true road games this season, although their previous two visits to enemy territory resulted in victories over Philadelphia schools Temple (81-78) and Saint Joseph's (73-64).
As has been the custom in recent years, Butler is enjoying another highly- successful campaign, logging 18 wins in 22 opportunities. Unfortunately, two of its setbacks have occurred over the last four games, the first being a narrow decision at La Salle (54-53), and the second an embarrassing result at Saint Louis (75-58). The Bulldogs logged a 75-68 win over visiting Rhode Island last Saturday to earn their fifth A-10 victory against two losses, and it also moved the team to a perfect 11-0 at home this season.
This bout represents the first-ever meeting between St. Bonaventure and Butler in men's basketball.
Both St. Bonaventure and Duquesne put forth impressive 3-point shooting efforts last weekend, the former hitting 12-of-22 (.545) and the latter 11- of-24 (.458), but the Bonnies used a 35-24 rebounding advantage to claim the eight-point victory. Eric Mosley nailed four treys on his way to 14 points, and Jordan Gathers hit three 3-pointers to finish with 13. Demitrius Conger rounded out SBU's double-digit scorers with 11 points thanks to two triples and a 5-of-6 showing at the free throw line. Overall, the Bonnies converted 85.7 percent of their foul shots, compared to just 60 percent for the Dukes. Conger (14.2 ppg, 7.0 rpg) continues to pace St. Bonaventure in both scoring and rebounding, and others averaging double digits in the scoring column include Chris Johnson (12.7 ppg, 3.4 rpg) and Mosley (10.2 ppg). The team as a whole is netting 71.1 ppg and permitting 69.9 ppg, and while they are being outshot overall (.442 to .451), the Bonnies have been more accurate than their opponents from beyond the arc (.377 to .363).
Rotnei Clarke drained all five of Butler's 3-pointers en route to 23 points, leading his team to a seven-point win over Rhode Island at Hinkle Fieldhouse over the weekend. Roosevelt Jones used an 8-of-8 showing at the free throw line to tally 18 points, and Khyle Marshall chipped in 13 for the Bulldogs, who shot 48.9 percent from the field and a stellar 88.9 percent (24-of-27) from the charity stripe. A 32-25 edge on the glass helped, as did the fact that the Rams were successful on only 40 percent of their field goal attempts. Clarke is clearly BU's top offensive performer, as he is averaging 17.1 ppg on the strength of his 44.3 percent showing from 3-point range. Andrew Smith (11.5 ppg), Kellen Dunham (10.6 ppg), Jones (10.6 ppg) and Marshall (10.2 ppg) round out what is a highly-productive quintet for coach Brad Stevens' squad, which puts up the same 71.1 ppg the Bonnies do, while foes typically generate just 64.0 ppg. Butler shoots 46.5 percent from the field while laying claim to a +7.9 rebounding differential.