St. Bonaventure-Butler Preview
By ALAN FERGUSON
(AP) -- While Butler's Rotnei Clarke has been consistently scoring since his return from injury, the same can't be said of his team in recent games.
The 14th-ranked Bulldogs are hoping to begin changing that trend while earning consecutive wins for the first time in two weeks Wednesday night against visiting St. Bonaventure.
Clarke has averaged 21.3 points - 6.2 more than his team-best output for the season - in three games since coming back from a severely sprained neck suffered in a win at Dayton on Jan. 12. He had 23 points and made five 3-pointers in Butler's 75-68 win over Rhode Island on Saturday, and Roosevelt Jones scored 13 of his 18 points in the second half.
The Bulldogs played that game following the death of junior forward Erik Fromm's father.
"I was proud of our guys to get away with a win in what was otherwise a pretty darn tough day for our program," coach Brad Stevens said.
The victory kept Butler within a half-game of Atlantic 10 leader VCU, but the Bulldogs (18-4, 5-2) are hoping another home game will help them move into a tie for first place Wednesday.
Butler hasn't helped itself lately, alternating losses and wins in its last four games. The Bulldogs have been held under 60 points in each of those defeats, both on the road, but have 75 or more in the two wins, both at Hinkle Fieldhouse. They've failed to score 65 in four of the past six games - that happened just three times through their first 16.
Butler is 11-0 on its home floor but will next face a team that's won back-to-back road games and three of four overall after losing six in a row.
St. Bonaventure (10-10, 3-4) defeated conference cellar dweller Duquesne 68-60 at home on Saturday. Its most recent road wins have come over Temple and Saint Joseph's behind leading scorer and rebounder Demitrius Conger's 36 points and 16 boards.
The Bonnies shot a combined 51.4 percent in those two games, but Butler has held opponents to 40.1 percent in conference play. St. Bonaventure, meanwhile, ranks last in that category at 47.1.
Butler is seeking back-to-back victories for the first time since a 13-game win streak that was snapped with a 54-53 loss at La Salle on Jan. 23 - the last game Clarke missed.
The senior guard would like to take better care of the ball, having totaled 17 turnovers since returning after committing a career-high seven Saturday.
"Last couple of games I just made careless mistakes with the ball, getting it to guys in the wrong spots," Clarke said. "I've got to just be smarter."
The Bulldogs have a combined 38 turnovers over their last two games with 23 in a 75-58 loss at Saint Louis on Thursday, their most in one game since Jan. 23, 2003. Stevens said his team's 15 miscues against Rhode Island were for a different reason.
"It's something to work on and we just got to keep getting better at it," Stevens said. "I think one of things about turning it over is that you're being aggressive and attacking. That's how we turned it over (against Rhode Island) than, say, Thursday, when we were on our heels."
This game marks the first meeting between Butler and St. Bonaventure.
Updated February 5, 2013