The Butler men’s basketball team moved to within a half game of first place in the Atlantic 10 Conference standings after beating Duquesne 68-49 Tuesday night.
Senior guard Rotnei Clarke finished with 16 points. Clarke has scored in double figures in each of the last eight games since his return from a neck injury suffered against Dayton on Jan. 12.
Junior forward Khyle Marshall added 14 points while freshman guard Kellen Dunham tallied 11 for the Bulldogs (22-5, 9-3).
“Khyle has always risen to the occasion as the season has progressed, and we are towards that latter part of the season,” coach Brad Stevens said. “And we’re going to need everybody to rise to that.”
Guard Derrick Colter was the only player in double digits, for Duquesne (8-18, 1-11) with 11 points. Jerry Jones and Jeremiah Jones each added nine.
The Dukes’ 49 points were the fewest allowed by Butler since it held Richmond to 47 on Jan. 18.
“I think collectively we’re guarding better,” Marshall said. “We held a great 3-point shooting team to only 49 points, so I think that’s a pretty big accomplishment on our part.”
Stevens said he was pleased with the team’s defensive effort.
“Our guys were locked in defensively,” Stevens said.
Sophomore Alex Barlow opened the game with a 3-pointer from the corner, and the Bulldogs never looked back. Butler never trailed in the game. Its biggest lead was 22 late in the second half.
“Coach gave us a couple things as a team we needed to improve from the past couple games, and I think we did a great job improving those today,” Barlow said.
Barlow finished with a career- high seven points.
Saint Louis beat VCU 76-62 last night, taking sole possession of first place at 9-2 in conference play.
Butler has the opportunity to move itself into first place with a win, when the Billikens visit Hinkle Fieldhouse Friday night.
Butler suffered its worst loss of the season on the road at Saint Louis on Jan. 31 in a 75-58 loss.
Marshall said that game is still fresh in his mind.
“Definitely I think I would say there’s some payback due,” Marshall said. “We just didn’t come in ready that game, but definitely we’re going to take the next two days to prepare.”
Friday’s game is sold out. It is the fourth Butler sellout of the season.
Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.