Rapid Reaction: Butler 72, Saint Joseph's 66

January, 9, 2013
1/09/13
8:52
PM ET
PHILADELPHIA -- Here’s a quick look at Butler’s 72-66 victory over Saint Joseph’s:

Overview: Welcome to the Atlantic 10, Butler. Isn’t this going to be fun? To the rest of the nation, the Bulldogs are the plucky underdogs. Here, they are the hated and hunted big boys with the national brand name. Saint Joseph’s students actually booed the Bulldogs when they took the court -- borderline blasphemy anywhere else.

Butler got all it could handle and then some from a Hawks team hungry (borderline desperate) for a signature victory to bolster its NCAA résumé. The Bulldogs ultimately won because they had the better players -- two of them, to be exact. Andrew Smith and Rotnei Clarke did all of the offensive work for the Bulldogs, helping them to their first win in the A-10.

Turning point: With Butler trailing 56-54 in a game that was tight from the opening tip, Saint Joseph's forward Ronald Roberts tried for a highlight-reel reverse dunk on an alley-oop but clanked it. On the next possession, Clarke drained a 3-pointer. Butler (13-2, 1-0 A-10) never trailed again.

Key player: Split the difference between Clarke and Smith. They were the best players on the floor. Clarke threw daggers from outside and controlled the game from the point. Smith dominated in the paint, using his trademark jump hook.

Key stat: More like key number. It’s 52. That’s how many points Clarke (28) and Smith (24) combined for, doing all of the work for the Bulldogs to secure their first league win.

Miscellaneous: This was Butler’s first official Atlantic 10 game. The Bulldogs, who handed then-No. 1 Indiana its lone loss, were picked to finish sixth in the league. Saint Joe’s was the predicted winner in the preseason. … The game was the first sellout of the season for the Hawks (8-5, 0-1). … The last time the two teams met was 1941 at the Philadelphia Convention Center.

Next game: The Hawks travel to Duquesne on Saturday; Butler visits Dayton the same day.

Dana O'Neil | email

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