Showing it was not completely dependent on senior guard Rotnei Clarke, the Butler men’s basketball team stormed past IUPUI 87-55 yesterday.
Clarke did not score until the 8:37 mark of the first half, but the Bulldogs (6-2) had already built a 26-6 lead.
Butler’s defense stymied the Jaguars (3-7), as it took them more than nine minutes to get past the two-point mark.
“Obviously I thought we were strong offensively the majority of the game,” Butler coach Brad Stevens said. “I thought we were really good defensively the first 13 minutes of the game.”
Five different Bulldogs connected from beyond the arc in the opening 20 minutes, including senior center Andrew Smith, who hit his second of the season.
Two 3-point baskets by junior forward Erik Fromm on back-to-back possessions midway through the half brought the crowd to its feet.
“In our system, our forwards are open a lot, especially with Rotnei and Kellen and Chase all very capable shooters,” Fromm said. “Part of being prepared to shoot the wide open shots is getting in the gym.”
Butler carried a 52-21 advantage into the locker room behind 12 points each from Clarke and freshman guard Kellen Dunham.
The Bulldogs shot 60 percent from the field and 3-point line in the first half. The Jaguars shot a respectable 41 percent from the field in the first 20 minutes, but only junior forward Donovan Gibbs had more than five points.
“Not to be too obvious, but the start was not what we had in the cards,” IUPUI coach Todd Howard said. “I was very pleased with our second half. I thought, to battle the way we did, guys competed.”
In the second half, Butler outscored IUPUI by just one point, but the Jaguars were never able to truly threaten the Bulldogs’ lead.
“I thought we had two good days of practice,” Stevens said.
Butler finished with five players in double figures and 11 players with at least two points.
Clarke and Dunham each tallied a game-high 17 points. Smith added 11 points, while Fromm and junior forward Khyle Marshall both recorded 10 points.
Dunham actually came off the bench in the first half, as Stevens opted to start sophomore guard Alex Barlow instead.
“We talked about that with Kellen and obviously his minutes aren’t going to deviate,” Stevens said. “We said, ‘let’s see if this will be a better fit for us.’”
While Butler outrebounded IUPUI 29-21, Smith, Marshall and sophomore forward Roosevelt Jones combined for just one board.
Gibbs and junior center Mitchell Patton led the Jaguars with 10 points apiece. Gibbs also tallied a team-high six rebounds and three assists.
Butler will now prepare for two consecutive games against Big 10 opponents. The first will see the Bulldogs travel to Northwestern Saturday.
The Wildcats (7-2) are coming off a stunning 74-70 victory over Baylor on the road earlier this week.
“Watched the whole game,” Stevens said. “I watched a little bit more of that than I usually do so that I have a good feel when I talk to the team.”